Healing the Mind After an Injury

Have you ever struggled with confidence after an injury? For so many distance runners, having an injury sideline you can lead you feeling stressed and worried that the next run is going to lead to another injury.  Or, sometimes the injury you have been dealing with continues to “linger” even though you thought you were over it.

Often times, it takes getting back to training to heal from the last phase of an injury- the crushed confidence.  A runner may start out hesitant to train, constantly assessing the region of the injury and attempting to decipher if it is returning.  While this is an important part of returning to training, when it goes on excessively, it can be problematic as well. When we focus on one particular area excessively, it is hard to really tell if it is injured or not.  So, how do we get past this? Here are some basic strategies I recommend:

  1. Find a gradual return to running program that you can trust (either from a coach, trainer, or rehab professional).  Start it, stick to it as long as your pain is always under a level 3/10.
  2. Acknowledge, but don’t linger on painful areas as you take a few minutes to assess the state of your entire body. Consider a morning mantra such as: “My body is healthy and strong” or “My body is full of healing energy”.  Whatever you want to say to yourself, make it positive and repeat it as you assess your body.
  3. Find proactive ways to recover. Sometimes rest is necessary, but doing something to help recover or prevent recurrence of injury also does amazing things for the mind. This may include strengthening, stretching, foam rolling, or regular massage. These things can all help to balance out the tightness and the weaknesses in the body, allowing for overall better function.
  4. Get a gait analysis by a qualified physical therapist. Sometimes, it is the way we run that tells all.  I have often been able to figure out why an injury keeps recurring by watching my patients run. The way you run can identify specific muscle weakness or poor mechanics that can contribute to your risk of injury. Especially if you are dealing with an injury that is recurring or chronic, this is a great idea to help break the cycle.


For more information on injury recovery and for gradual progression training programs, check out my ebook: Pain-free Running!

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