Staying motivated with your rehabilitation

Staying motivated with your rehabilitation

Rehabilitating an injury can sometimes be challenging, lengthy, and at times consuming, both physically and mentally. Unfortunately, this process may involve putting on hold activities we normally enjoy doing. 

Below are some steps to guide your rehabilitation journey and some tips to keep you motivated to getting back on track. 


Initially, after sustaining an injury, you can have several voices running through your head – How long will I be out of my sport for? Will I get back to where I was? What does my recovery look like? For a significant injury, it is easy to get overwhelmed, frustrated and caught up in this mindset. However, it is important you take the time to process the reality of your situation and consult with a medical professional such as a physiotherapist. Goal setting is an essential tool throughout your rehabilitation. Your physiotherapist will assist in outlining the stepping stone goals needed for you to work towards achieving the larger milestones such as returning to running, training and performance.

Tip: Stick your personal goal that is unique to you somewhere on your wall. This can be a great reminder to help you stay accountable and thus motivate you to put in the work, i.e. being consistent with your exercises. 


Sometimes the rehabilitation process can be isolating and remove you from previous social settings. It can be helpful chatting with a friend, teammate, or person you know who has been through a similar experience. It is also encouraged to maintain your usual social/activity routine. For example, attending your team’s training sessions and getting some rehab in on the sidelines is a great way to stay connected to your sport and keep your head in the game. As we know, injuries are no stranger to the best of the best, so looking up to idols such as professional athletes who have been able to make a comeback can be great inspiration. It is important to understand that your physiotherapist and exercise physiologist are on your side, and they will be there to help provide holistic direction and support in your rehabilitation.


Don’t underestimate the power of visualisation! Research has shown that when we visualise the action and perform an action, we stimulate the same regions in the brain. So even though you might be out of the game physically, there is nothing stopping you from rehearsing all those flips, tucks, sprints and jumps that you have performed before. 


Rehabilitation can be a significant commitment; however, it is vital that throughout your journey you allow yourself to focus on activities that don’t concern your injury. This might include putting that built up energy into learning a new skill, reading, writing, meditating, or spending more time with family and friends. Setting aside this time for yourself is important to avoid burn out. It allows you to appreciate the other areas in your life. 


Injuries can be like running a marathon – you want to get a good start, then maintain a steady and consistent pace (keeping in mind those upcoming hills) and finally… finish strong

Just like any rehabilitation journey, there will be moments that are rewarding, challenging and even times where you feel like you are taking a step backwards. This is a normal part of the process and is likely to require some patience. To assist in these times, it can be empowering to remind yourself of the milestones that you have achieved, and give yourself a bit of grace. You also don’t have to do this alone. Your physiotherapist or exercise physiologist will help remind you of your progress and provide support that best works for you in your rehabilitation journey moving forward!

Keeping motivated in Covid: 

Just like how you may feel with an injury, we are all feeling a little isolated during the lockdown. Below are some tips to keep the motivation going and avoid that slump! 

  • Keep connected with your Physiotherapist/Exercise physiologist. We are still operating in the clinic or through telehealth. 
  • Get in a workout or rehab or with a family member, friend, or teammate over video conferencing. 
  • Slow down. Life can get busy, so with this extra time in lockdown slow down, reflect and prioritise self-care. 
  • Remind yourself of how far you have come and use this to stay accountable and motivated. 
  • Before watching that next episode on Netflix set aside 5-10minutes to move. 
  • Get out in the Sun! Mixing up the environment you perform your rehab in, can be stimulating and promote adherence. 
  • Gratitude! When we express gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotine – the “mood enhancer” neurotransmitters. 
  • Focus on getting 1% better every day – The effect of small habits compound over time. Use this time to get out on top. 

It is important for everyone to remember during this lockdown… Tough times don’t last but tough people do!

Image: https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/49/8/494