4-Steps To Speed Injury Recovery

Dr. Raymond J. Petras specializes in elite sports performance and injury management. He is an international lecturer, author, professor, researcher and world cup team doctor. His work encompasses most sports from young amateur athletes, Olympic and professional, as well as the business and the medical communities. Listed below is the first of a three-part series on health, injuries and performance and how football coaches—at all levels–can benefit

Safe, Effective and Long Lasting
By Dr. Ray Petras
Elite Sports Performance and Injury Management Specialist

Poised To Win
Have you ever been in a situation where you thought that your team was in position to win big, and then injuries derailed the team? Ohio State was in this very situation playing at the University of Southern California (USC) on September 13, 2008. Their Heisman candidate, Chris “Beanie” Wells, was out with an injury. Have you ever dealt with injuries that took up an inordinate amount of time? Is there anything that can get players healthy more quickly? The answer, in most cases, is YES!! See below what a tight-end does to heal his broken wrist in just four weeks…

Athletic Trainers on Sport Psychology in the Training Room
In their paper, Sport Psychology in the Training Room: A Survey of Athletic Trainers, Dr. Diane M. Weise, et. al.*, surveyed athletic trainers (N=115) on the use of psychological strategies with injured athletes. These trainers felt that the athlete’s recovery could be facilitated by using a positive communication style, strategies for setting realistic goals, methods for encouraging positive self-thoughts and understanding individual motivation. Trainers also felt that recovery could be facilitated by the use of psychological techniques of good interpersonal communication skills, positive reinforcement, coach support and keeping the athlete involved with the team throughout rehabilitation. And, may I add, visualization.

After an Injury You (athlete) should…
1. Obtain all the information that you can about the injury.
2. Sit down with the team physician or trainer and obtain the diagnosis and prognosis of the injury.
3. Find out how long the recovery period “generally” is for your injury.
• I say “generally” because some “heal” faster than others, and you may be one of them.
4. Do as much as you can for the team while being rehabilitated (attend practices, count pitches, offer support, study films, etc).

Once you have the above information, you can embark on a program to determine if it is possible for you to safely “heal” more quickly than thought possible for your condition. The steps to determine how you will progress are below.

Technique: 4-Steps To Speed Injury Recovery
(Note: There is no substitute for the proper medical attention. The following steps are to be used in conjunction with conventional, standard medicine (CSM). They are general because all the variations cannot be recorded.)
1. (Re)Define pain. What is the purpose of pain? Write your own definition before proceeding.
a. Pain is the body’s mechanism to let you know that there is a problem. However, once the problem has been correctly diagnosed and is being taken care of, theoretically, there is no longer a reason for pain. Make sense?
i. You still have to heal and may not be able to play.
2. Sit in a chair and close your eyes.
a. Imagine a clocklike pain dial, on a scale from 0 – 10.
i. What is your pain number? Put a mental mark on that number.
b. Now imagine a range-of-motion (ROM) dial, if there is a ROM problem.
i. What is your ROM number? Put a mental mark on that number.
c. Mentally move the mark indicating your pain level down toward 0.
i. Does your pain get less?
d. The same goes for your ROM. Move the marker until it reads 10 or is as close to 10 as you can get it.
i. Does your ROM improve?
3. Whether you move your mental markers a little or a lot, that is great. Keep practicing.
a. If you can not move the marker or it moves for awhile then moves back to its original position, it does not mean that this technique will not work for you. What it means is that you may need more guidance than this very basic outline.
4. Finally, visualize yourself as pain-free and with 100% ROM just before going to sleep and upon arising in the morning.

This very basic form of the technique has been found to be of great assistance in returning injured athletes to the field of play much sooner than thought possible with just CSM.

Tight End’s Amazing Story – Broken Wrist
Jim, a senior tight-end, broke his wrist, in the first game of the year. He landed on his wrist early in the game. His physician told him that he would be in a cast six to eight weeks and unable to play. He was obviously “bummed” because it was the first game of his senior year.

To see if he could speed up his recover time, Jim decided to enlist the help of the team’s “mental” trainer (MT).

“Mental” Training
The MT told Jim about a safe mental technique that could speed the healing of his broken wrist (PNPR™)†. Jim was interested. So, the “mental” trainer instructed Jim to visualize workers inside his body plastering and fixing the cracks in his wrist everyday at bedtime and upon awakening. He laughed at the thought, but decided to give it a try. In four weeks, Jim played and scored a touchdown on a pass reception.†† (Jim’s interview: (www.youtube.com/watch?v=EelhrOpQ-9Y)

For the Coach
How to Help Your Injured Athlete Return to Play More Quickly*
1. Show support.
a. Meet with the athlete.
b. Communicate positively and often.
2. Encourage the athlete to engage in positive self-talk.
3. Agree on realistic goals for rehabilitation.
4. Make sure ALL coaches, team members and parents support the athlete during recovery.
5. Keep the athlete involved with the team. Give him some meaningful job.
6. Have them define pain. What is its function?
7. Have the athlete follow the 4-Steps To Speed Injury Recovery
8. Work closely with your trainer and physician.

Back to Ohio State
If Ohio State’s “Beanie” Wells had used this technique would he have been ready to play? Experience says, “yes.” Even if he played would Ohio State have won? That is unknown. But, as a coach, you want to give your team the best opportunity to win by having your best players available. This technique can help.

Healed or Not
If an athlete uses this technique, will his injury be healed and the pain gone? It’s possible, absolutely possible. But how probable it is, that I cannot answer. Some heal faster than others. Your athlete may be one of them. Let me know how this works for you. Give your permission to get better™.

Question or Idea for an Article
Have an idea for an article or you would like more information on a particular subject? Send your request to: drpetras@reliefforyou.com

Next Month’s Article
The difference between finishing first or last can often be measured in inches, milliseconds, strides or strokes. Learn the elements to success. Next month’s article is “The Five Elements Necessary for Success.

About the Author
Dr. Raymond J. Petras specializes in elite sports performance & injury management. He is an international lecturer, author, professor, researcher and world cup team doctor. His work encompasses most sports from young amateur athletes, Olympic and professional, as well as the business and the medical communities. He is available for individual or team consultation and may be reached at 1.888.447.1429, email drpetras@reliefforyou.com More information is available on his website www.reliefforyou.com, blog.reliefforyou.com or YouTube.com (type relief4u2 in the search bar).

†PNPR™ (PsychoNeuro Pain Response™) also called Talking Away Pain™ (TAP™) http://www.reliefforyou.com/page7.html
††Although he didn’t need to, Jim wore a light cast for a few weeks, just to be safe.
*Author’s Note: The technique was trimmed to the minimum for this article. Slightly more was done with Jim. However, good results can be expected by following this plan.