Perhaps because many people consider running to be a purely or primarily physical activity, dealing with the physical aspect of a running injury is often much easier than dealing with the emotional impact. But the truth is that the invisible injuries can inflict just as much damage as the visible ones.
Another reason may be that some physical injuries are easier to understand and correct than some emotional ones. For example, when a runner develops shin splints, a calf support brace, some ice, and a few days off usually correct the physical problem.
The emotional impact of shin splints or other running injuries vary greatly from person to person, but all injured runners must face these issues, at least to some extent.
Quite frankly, many people do not fully understand the connection between the mind and body and are therefore surprised that a few days as a veritable couch potato has such an enormous impact on their psyches.
So, be ready to feel the emotions that are listed below. There’s an old saying that knowing is half the battle, so anticipating some emotional fallout from a fitness injury always makes these physical injuries easier to deal with.
When it comes to overcoming emotional injury, the first order of business is not to take a step forward, but to take a step back and remember why people sustain fitness injuries in the first place. For the most part, it is not as punishment for doing something wrong, but rather these injuries are signals that something is amiss and, without immediate corrective action, the situation will most likely deteriorate. If you heed that call, which you probably will, the injury should almost immediately begin to dissipate.
Furthermore, remember that fitness injuries, like everything else, eventually pass. While “eventually” can be a very long time in certain areas, in the context of muscle strains and other relatively mild fitness injuries, “eventually” probably means a few days or weeks.
“If only I had done XYZ, I would not have sustained this injury.”
This emotion is very common, and indeed very necessary, as it is part of the perspective process.
However, in too negative of a context, this emotion is also essentially a waste of energy. It is impossible to turn back the clock, and even if we did have that ability, we would most likely make different mistakes anyway. So, rather than wringing one’s hands over what happened before, try to learn from that experience and move forward.
This emotion is very common as well, mostly because of a cumulative effect of the feelings mentioned above coupled with a lack of endorphins, because you are not exercising according to your previous schedule.
The cures for fitness injury-related depression are in its causes. As mentioned above, a healthy dose of perspective will limit regret and help prevent the downward spiral that often ends in depression. As for the endorphins, do some light cross training, like a few minutes of biking or swimming. This light exercise will probably not give you that same “runner’s high,” but it will probably be sufficient to take the edge off depression.
Getting through these experiences empowers us to deal with some of the other emotional issues in our lives, so when we fully recover from our fitness injuries, we are stronger mentally and physically.