Being physically injured is hard enough without also having all the emotional fallout. In this episode we give voice to some of what we might experience emotionally with a dance injury, but then we also talk about coping strategies to help you get through it.
Here are the 6 points that you can consider to help you in your recovery from a dance injury.
1. Acceptance. Accept that you are injured and that you have to slow down. Resistance to what is will slow your recovery. Stress, tension, impatience are all understandable but detrimental to your ability to recover. You are a physical person and injuries are part of the deal. You will have stuff happen because you are out there being active. Accept what is and move forward.
2. Partner WITH your body. Don’t go to war with yourself. Be careful how you treat yourself. Don’t be mad at your body or believe it is against you in some way. Take care of it. Do the self care. Do the active recovery like it’s your training plan. Rest, do Physical Therapy if you have it. The body heals when it heals so do everything you can do help it along. This includes loving it. Don’t overdo it. Listen carefully. Speaking preventatively, don’t push through pain. The instant I feel like I tweaked something, I sub out my fitness classes and rest. I don’t mess around anymore. Don’t be a hero and try to push through pain. Preserve your health by being proactive when things are off.
3. Sometimes you have to go slow to go fast. When I had shoulder issues, I tried to come back prematurely a time or two but kept getting sidelined. Finally, I gave up my classes, scaled back and settled in for the long haul. It took 18 months, including nearly a full year of PT to get my shoulders back to a good place. Remember recovery is hard work. It can seem like you aren’t doing anything, but your body is hard at work. Healing is a hard job. You will feel lazy and tired at times not doing much, but your body is working all along.
4. Do what you can. With dancing there are some things you can modify. With my shoulders, we would practice with lower hand positions so I wouldn’t flare up my shoulders. You might only be able to watch videos or performances. You can decrease practice, avoid injured areas, or learn by watching. For some people still being a part of the dance world helps, for others it doesn’t.
5. Do other things. Take this time to pursue other things you care about that allow your body to rest. Be a whole person. What else to do you like? When dance is your only thing, and it becomes your identity, when we have a setback it can feel like we have nothing left. Don’t let that happen to you. No one things can define who we are. Embrace the time off if it comes to that. Find a way to keep your brain busy so it doesn’t ruminate on the injury. Find another outlet. Cross train.
6. Tend to your mindset. Focus on wellness. I realized at one time I was focused on my illness. I was thinking about the pain I was in or that my shoulders or neck “still weren’t better.” At some point I read something that talked about the mind body connection and how powerful it is. So I decided to stop thinking about my illness and focus on wellness. I started talking about how much better things were getting. I would try to celebrate small milestones. I can’t turn my head but at least it doesn’t hurt anymore! I would speak gratitude for what was working well or what I could still do. I would say to myself over and over again in my mind that my body was doing just a good job of healing. I would visualize myself dancing or teaching my classes again with my full abilities. Imagine yourself coming back stronger than before. Tending to your mindset might include talking about it as well. Talk to a therapist or a coach (ahem). Explore relaxation techniques. A mind and body that is at peace heals much better and faster than one in a stress response. Watch that part of your brain that wants to tell a fatalistic, scare story, and don’t let it get carried away.
Nurture peace, wellness and gratitude to speed your healing.
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