Your Inner Athlete column: Mental strategies to bounce back quickly from injury |

Your Inner Athlete column: Mental strategies to bounce back quickly from injury

Lindsey Vonn’s latest injury reminds us that no matter how great our physical strength and capability is, the risk of getting hurt will always be inherent in sport.

For Vonn, and anyone suffering from the disappointment of an injury and striving to have a speedy recovery, a combination of physical rehabilitation and mental toughness is key to bouncing back with fast and efficient results.

Research demonstrates using mental toughness skills shortens rehab and allows for an effective return to sport. Here are five strategies you can implement right now to achieve this too.

No. 1: Maintain a positive perspective. Deal with what is and not what it has been or could be. Yes, your injury is no fun! It’s okay at the beginning to be upset and angry. Yet the only way to move forward is to focus on your action plan to effectively rehab your injury. Eliminate any “woulda, coulda, shoulda” and “if only” from your self-talk, replacing them with dialogue about what you can do today.

No. 2: Make rehab your new sport. The human spirit is driven by challenges. Embrace your rehab as a new, temporary “sport” to conquer. Challenge yourself with new goals to help you reach higher levels of performance. Take advantage of this opportunity to return to your sport stronger than ever!

No. 3: Your attitude = your altitude. It’s not cliche. We are made up of energy, and the positive energy in our thoughts fuels the positive results in our lives. The fastest way to recover from injury is to stay positive and focused on following your rehab regimen. Measure your milestones of success and reward yourself each day for your achievements.

No. 4: Stay connected. Although you may not physically be able to participate in sporting functions with friends, stay connected. Continue to support your fellow athletes and you will receive the same support in return.

No. 5: Harness the power of visualization. Visualization is the most powerful mental toughness tool professional athletes use to 1. Increase feelings of personal control; 2. Break up the monotony of rehab; and 3. Escalate the rate of healing. There are many uses of visualization. Whatever your goals, creating the experience first in your mind will help you to achieve them in reality.

With a Ph.D. in sport and exercise psychology, Haley Perlus is a professor, published author, international speaker and Peak Performance consultant. For more free tips and videos, go to http://www.drhaley For more on developing mental toughness to recover successfully from an injury and optimize your post injury performance, contact Perlus at or 303-459-4516.

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