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Mental blocks act as psychological barriers, preventing you from meeting the demands of a task. Behind every comeback story there are countless hours of hard work and dedication to recovery. Every success story of recovery comes with countless untold stories of struggle. The mental side of injury recovery is just as important as the physical side. Mental blocks are dangerous, they cause struggle, present challenges, and can make you feel defeated. You are stronger than your mental blocks, keep recovering, make your comeback! Continue reading to learn how you can become your own comeback story!

1. Acknowledge the Block

The first step is always the hardest. You need to acknowledge your mental block. You need to get rid of the mentality that you can physically “push through” this time of mental struggle, you should not have to force yourself to perform. A simple way to identify you are facing a mental block is if you know you have the physical competence to complete a task, but are not able to perform at the level of demand the task requires. For example, if last week during your recovery you were able to kick a soccer ball into the net 15 ft. away, but today you could not kick the ball 15 ft. away, you know you are facing a mental black because you know you can kick the soccer ball. It is important to recognize that you are facing a mental, not a physical block.1 To acknowledge a mental block, you need to be mentally strong. Mental strength embodies acknowledgement of the challenge, attacks fear, understands the work that is going to be required to overcome the mental block, and puts in the work.[1]

2. Visualize

There is power in visualization. Research indicates that the visualization of an action and performance of an action stimulate the same regions in the brain. Before performing physical rehabilitation, mentally visualize what the physical activity looks like at a level of full function to enhance your performance.[2] Identify the key movements of the physical activity, and when performing make sure to focus on these movements. It may be helpful to break down each step of the movement to be able to better enhance performance. Visualize yourself picture perfect!

3. Positive Self Talk

Get in your head! Self talk holds power over our actions! You hold power, use positive self talk to empower yourself, addressing the mental barriers you face. Mental blocks are derived from negative self talk, rooted in fear and self doubt.[3] Use positive self talk to empower and motivate yourself to overcome mental blocks. Instead of the negative “what if”, use positive “I can” statements. For example, do not say “what if I make a fool of myself”, say “I can do this, I have practiced”. You need to become your own inner voice coach, training yourself to use positive self talk. To encourage this internal process, try surrounding yourself with a positive motivational climate, this can include receiving moral support from friends and family, or writing positive words of affirmation and encouragement down and reading them to yourself. You can do it!

4. Adapt

Often people feel overwhelmed and at a loss of control and power during recovery.[4] This can lead to mental blocks of feeling defeated. It is important that you adapt and take control over the present. To adapt and have a sense of control, set out an attainable goal each day. This goal can be repeated until you feel ready to progress, but it can give you a sense of accomplishment each day. This sense of accomplishment can further help you overcome your mental block by enhancing your level of motivation during the recovery process. These goals are able to be adapted to your present state each day. You have power, set goals that empower you.

5. Push Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone

At the end of the day you just have to push yourself, you have to do what scares you, what challenges you, what you are afraid of. One of the hardest parts of recovery is just starting, starting requires both physical and mental strength. You can do it, growth takes times. If you are afraid to do something try breaking down the movement into individual parts. Practice each of these parts individually first, then put it all together. You know what they say, practice makes perfect! Don’t be afraid, you got this!

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References

1. Porter K. The Mental Athlete. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 2004.

2. Activities in Physical Education & Sport . 2011, Vol. 1 Issue 1, p35-38. 4p.

3. Self-Talk. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/basics/self-talk. Accessed December 28, 2020.

4. Sports Health & Fitness. How to Overcome Anxiety During Your Sports Injury Recovery. Cleveland Clinic. June 2020.