Stop Focusing on Your Injury

Jimmy Picard   |
June 8, 2024

As a kid, I loved playing with my dad’s Maglite flashlight. We always had one around the house. At night, I’d sneak off with it, illuminating the darkness. It had two features I was obsessed with. First, you could twist the headpiece to narrow the beam, intensifying the flashlight’s output. It was like a little spotlight—a small, intense beam making everything outside its reach disappear into pitch black. The second feature did the exact opposite. You could take the headpiece off, exposing the bulb, and use the flashlight as an electric candle. Used this way, you could light up an entire room!

Same flashlight, two very different experiences.

I was talking to a patient this week and used a spotlight analogy. That got me thinking about these two different ways to use the Maglite. When we get injured, we often default to honing in on the injured area. The longer the injury persists, the narrower our focus becomes. We turn the flashlight into a mini spotlight. Everything else recedes into darkness, and our world shrinks.

Part of a good rehab plan is switching to the candle mode—illuminating the things outside the injury, lighting up the room, and noticing the things you can do instead of focusing on those you cannot. Obviously, there is more to rehab, but this is a good place to start.

If you’ve found yourself stuck, always thinking about an injury and the things you are no longer able to do, maybe you need to make this shift. If you are a runner and have stopped running due to pain, there is almost certainly some amount of running you can do, even if it’s only 10 seconds at a time. Or maybe the downtime is a chance to grow in other areas of your life while you work to rebuild stronger than before.

Whatever it is for you, find a way to illuminate the darkness, and don’t let your world shrink to nothing but fear of reinjury and a handful of PT exercises

Redefine PT & Performance
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