The Mental Aspects of Injury

Uncertainty. Vulnerability. Weakness. Fear. Hesitation. Self-disappointment. Lack of motivation.

These are all emotional states that I struggle to come to terms with. Even as a woman who takes pride in being both physically and mentally strong, these feelings make me question myself at times.

I’m feeling this way because of an injury. This time, one that was completely preventable. It would be easy to blame someone else for this one, but it would not be fair or entirely accurate.

I began working with a very strong trainer at the gym. It was our first day working together and he was helping me clean up my bench press technique. He gave me some good cues which helped me engage my upper back more, change my elbow position, and have a better breathing pattern. I asked him about my arch, and told him that I was feeling some unusual pain in my mid/low back. He told me that it was normal and I would get used to it, but benching with a belt would help.

We moved onto deadlifts, even though I just deadlifted the previous day. I told him I deadlifted sumo. He had me do both sumo and conventional to compare. He told me that I was able to lift more weight faster in conventional, but I told him it did not feel right to me. I asked him how my back looked because I thought it was rounding, but he said it looked fine. I continued doing deficit deadlifts in conventional stance until I could no longer lift the 175lbs on the bar. I honestly have no idea how many reps or sets I did.

I woke up the next day with the worst pain in my mid and low back that I have ever felt. It was a struggle to stand up, sit down, walk, bend over, or tackle stairs without pain. I went to the chiropractor to get an adjustment and muscle stimulation. I iced my back while relaxing at home. Sleep was also a struggle, as I am a side sleeper and I roll from one side to the other throughout the night. I’m currently at the end of my 2nd day of back pain.

My problem: I made the mistake of listening to what someone else was telling me about my body, rather than taking action on what my own body was telling me. I didn’t write down my reps/sets like I normally do. I wasn’t “in my zone”. I wasn’t as in tune with my body as I normally am while lifting. And for that, I hurt myself.

I feel worried and fearful, because my powerlifting meet is in 3 weeks; instead of training, I’m trying to recover from an injury.

I feel uncomfortable and vulnerable, because of the uncertainty as to when I will be back at my best again.

I feel disappointed in myself, because I know that I know better; this injury was preventable. Because this is my last meet in the Junior age class, I set high and probably unrealistic expectations for myself.


Here are some tips that I use and recommend for dealing with the mental aspects of recovering from an injury:

1. Relax. Read a book, watch a favorite movie or TV show, listen to a podcast or audio book.

2. Stay positive. Keep your mind occupied in a productive way. Nothing good can come out of repetitive worrisome thoughts.

3. Treat yourself more gently than usual. If that means going an exta couple days without doing laundry, do it. If that means having a bit of your favorite treat, do it. It definitely means getting some good nights of sleep and eating well.

4. Spend time with people or animals you care about. With the right company, your mood can improve drastically.

5. Be realistic. Take as much time as you need to fully recover. Do not let your self-expectations or short-term goals cloud your judgement. You (or your doctor, depending on the severity) will know best once it is time to get back at it in the gym.

At times like these, it is a struggle to stay positive and motivated. Therefore, I’m making my best effort to relax, go with the flow, and take one day of recovery at a time.

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