I get it - I actually do. I've been nursing two injuries myself this year. I've seen all my patients struggle through the rehab process and a common question always arises, "Why is rehab SO hard?" These are the 4 main reasons I think rehab is so hard and how you can overcome them to get better with less drama!
I want to be better yesterday
The most common reason rehab is so hard is because no one likes being restrained. I frequently work with high achieving, adventurous souls who are most likely scaling a mountain in their heads while they are doing their horsestance exercises. We don't like begin told we can't do what we want to do. We want to be free.
I get this. I am someone who desperately needs to feel free. Free to move, free to live and free to just be. Every time I do a workout I want the freedom to do whatever I like without restraint. However, the rehab process has taught me patience and also to give greater value to the freedom I have when I am 100% fit and healthy.
Use your motivation to fuel each rep of rehab exercises you do and practice patience. You weren't built in a day and you won't be rehabbed in day either.
If rehab was a person I would have killed it by now!
Frustration is probably the most common outlet I see and deal with each day at my studio. Frustration can be fuelled by just not understanding something, the brain registering but the body not responding, the healing process taking it's time, set backs.
Frustration is not helpful. When I get frustrated I remind myself that I am getting in my own way and that the recovery process will just take longer if I resist it.
Here is where patience really matters. I work on accepting where I am at, it won't be forever, nothing stays the same. And I focus on what the rehab exercises are teaching me, how my body feels, what I am learning that's new in my study of movement and the body.
Again? Seriously again?
Rehabilitation is repetitive by nature. We have to relearn movement patterns, cement them in our long term memory, practice good alignment and posture in every day life, do our exercises day in day out.
When you are learning something new you have to practice again and again. You want the information you put in your short term memory to be converted to long term memory storage. The way the brain does this is by receiving the same information over and over again. Think about the process of learning a new language. First you learn some words and a few phrases, then you learn a few grammar rules and eventually you begin to understand the structure enough to begin forming sentences. Eventually if you practice enough you will become fluent. Movement is a language and when we are injured we have to relearn it.
There is a peace in practice - and I urge you to find it. Repetition can be comforting. What I find encouraging is that by repeating exercises you notice how many more reps you can do because you are getting more stable and stronger. Also, when you get to the optimal number of reps and sets for any exercise I give you, I'll upgrade your programme so you'll get a new challenge to work on!
The Green Grass of Envy
Comparing yourself and what you can do right now with others who are not injured is not helpful either. The grass is always greener from where you stand in the rehab process - I totally get that.
I used to look at runners in the park with green eyed envy as they sailed past me, muscles rippling rhythmically, bouncing along to their favourite tunes. Again envy is not a helpful emotion and stunts the rehabilitation process. I eventually learned to enjoy taking a slower pace of workout for a while. The grass will still be there when you are back and ready for your next adventure.
Like I always say, life is roller coaster, sometimes you are up and sometimes you are down. If you found a long term even keel on a roller coaster, I think this would be more torturous than the short term downs of rehabilitation!
Stick with it. You'll get there. I've rehabbed so many people who feel this way. It doesn't last. Try to enjoy the journey.
If you are reading this thinking, I need a bit of this in my life then please feel free to visit my website and find out more about how I can help you get better so you can live, move and be free and go design your life!