Learning to trust your body again after a significant injury

min read


The Sports Injury Clinic

Tom Peers-Barlow

January 11, 2024


Having a significant injury can be an overwhelming and scary time – for many of us, it can mean we experience lots of pain, a reduced ability to do the things we enjoy, and can even mean time off work. It’s important to acknowledge that it is completely normal to lose some faith in our own abilities, and our body’s abilities, if you have had a big injury.

The purpose of this blog is to outline some helpful tips to learning how to trust your body again and get you back on track!

1. ‘Slow and steady wins the race’

This may sound cliché – but it’s true. It is important to understand that sometimes after a serious injury, it will take you some time to return to the same intensity, level or quality of tasks and occupations as you did before the injury. This can be due to things that limit us such as pain, weakness, fatigue and stress; it can often be a combination of these too. If this sounds like you, then it is absolutely okay if you require a bit of time to get back on your feet: give yourself permission! Ensuring gradual return to activities coupled with consistent adherence to a treatment plan allows us to conserve more energy and strength while we recover. TSIC clinicians can guide you to how you navigate this.

2. Movement is medicine

One of the most common misconceptions about injuries, is that one must completely rest while injured. This is not necessarily true – it’s actually incredibly important that you find the optimal level of activity that you can complete during your recovery; even if it’s small. Movement can increase our strength and flexibility, as well as help reduce our pain, following injuries. For example, if you are recovering from a back injury and you start to get sore after walking for 30 minutes, then a walking program of 20 minutes at a time would be suitable to maintain your fitness while you recover. If you are recovering from a broken leg and are unable to exercise that leg, there are still plenty of options to exercise the other leg to ensure we don’t lose our overall strength. If you are experiencing a stiff shoulder from injury and it is difficult to reach to the top shelf, then exercises to improve our flexibility could be indicated. TSIC clinicians can create and tailor these plans to suit you!

3. Hurt does not equal harm

Pain does not correlate with how injured a particular part of your body is. Let’s use the example of a papercut; they hurt a lot, but the damage is tiny, and they heal within a day or two. Just because the pain is high, the damage can be small! When you have an injury (especially a fresh one), the injured part of your body sends messages to your brain to tell it what’s going on. Your brain weighs up what is happening, and the feeling of pain is your brain just telling you that something isn’t quite right. Most of the time, it is actually safe to exercise, move and work with pain! It is important to have a physiotherapy assessment to initially determine a plan of exercise, education and lifestyle modifications to assist you in this space.

4. Returning to work is a helpful part of recovery

The evidence tells us that people recover faster from injuries when they have a plan set in place to return to work earlier rather than later – this can be in the form of modified duties and/or reduced hours and having permitted rest breaks at work, while you build your strength and let your body heal – and that is okay! For example, work hours may be reduced to 2–4 hours per day with working days alternating with a rest day between. The hours can then be gradually increased to 6, 8, etc. Earlier return to work is also helpful because it keeps you active and engaged, as well as letting you stay in touch with your work-related social networks, which have been shown to help too.

For tailored treatment, it's best to consult with a physiotherapist to develop a treatment plan. Book online now or call or reception team on 9783 9990.


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The Sports Injury Clinic acknowledges the traditional owners of the land, the Bunurong people, and pays respect to Elders past, present and emerging.
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