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Recovery as a Performance

May 31, 2016

When I first started to pursue sport psychology I was fixed on working with elite athletes in a specific performance arena.  That’s the image I knew of sport psychology at the time.  What I quickly learned is that sport psychology, or more appropriately performance psychology, has much farther reaching implications than what you might expect.

Performance is not limited to the competitive environment.  It extends into business, medical, and military domains.  How we do at work, in the operating room, or in high risk situations is a performance and furthermore can benefit from mental skills training.  We often forget, however, about what it takes to recover from injury or surgery.  From a purely logical point of view we see everything was reattached correctly, the bone healed, the muscle and tendons are strong enough, so everything should be fine now, right?  We forget about the psychological impact that injury has on a person and what it takes to recover mentally from that.

Recovery is a performance.  It takes motivation, will, and commitment to recovery successfully and the right way.  In the same way that non-sport domains benefit from mental skills training so can one going through the recovery process.  In my own athletic lifestyle, I recently had to overcome an injury that caused me to not be able to run for 6 months. Running is something that had been a large part of my life for the last 10 years.  I struggled with this reality and often skipped my PT exercises and didn’t stretch or do cross training that would benefit my recovery process.  I wanted to run, but wasn’t doing anything to help me get back the right way.

My realization of this juxtaposition caused me to look into the psychology of injury more closely.  Not only did recovery have psychological implications into how well someone returns from injury, but I had found that recovery was as much of a performance as any other.  As much as a professional quarter back may benefit from the use of visualization to more effectively execute plays and make decisions, so to can someone in recovery reap beneficial outcomes that will return them to ideal physical capabilities.

Throughout the entire recovery process one can benefit from the same mental skills training used in any other domain.  Recovery, like the actions one takes in any other domain, is a performance.