Returning from Injury — Social Support

30 October 2013
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How to Return from Injury as Quickly as Possible — Social Support

It’s the middle of the fourth quarter. You‘ve got the perfect play call and the red zone is in your reach. A touchdown on this drive will effectively end the game — the likelihood of a comeback all but nil. You line up as the slot receiver. As the ball snaps and you accelerate out of your stance, you hear the dreaded pop and corresponding pain. Nobody has said anything yet, but you know you’re out for the season. All of the off-season hard work, all of the two-a-days, they mean nothing now.

A season ending injury can leave you in a difficult predicament. You are unable to practice and play, but you care about your team and their season results. It can be easy to take pity on yourself and isolate. You’re injured and you have to rehab. Nobody else is doing it. It can be a lonely place.

But recovering from an injury quickly involves more than rehabilitation. Social support is a critical component. Why? Research suggests that social support reduces stress and keeps you motivated throughout recovery. These aspects ultimately lead to a higher speed of recovery, no matter the injury.

So if social support is so important, how can you include it in your injury rehabilitation?

Stay Involved

For starters, stay involved with the team as much as possible. Just because you can’t participate in the physical activities doesn’t mean you aren’t a part of the team. Be involved in practice, stay mentally focused during the games. Your observations are helpful for your teammates and your coaches. Additionally, continue building relationships with your teammates. These relationships are an important aspect of team sports and the time spent with your team pays off in the long run.

Maintain Your Role

Additionally, maintain your role with the team. Spend time working through game planning and strategy with your coaches and fellow players. Even if you can’t practice, help your teammates with specific drills and give as much support as possible. Staying involved and maintaining your role both speak to the importance you have with your team. Athletics is more than your physical ability. Your injury gives you an opportunity to develop the mental side of your game in connection with the rest of your team.

Staying in Touch

Lastly, social support means spending time with your mentors or people who have dealt with your specific injury. It’s helpful to know you are not alone. People have been injured before and have returned to full ability. Hearing the stories of others and getting encouraged during your current rehabilitation helps immeasurably.

Stay Social

So remember, social support helps injury recovery. There are many ways to remain connected during your injury, but some easy tips to consider are: 1. stay involved with your team, 2. maintain your role, 3. connecting with others who have similar experiences.

We all will encounter an injury at some point during our playing careers. Just don’t forget the importance of the social component!