Runners who complete their training have every reason to be proud of what they have accomplished, whether they participate in a marathon or not. They set a goal, stuck to a plan and stayed patient with their progress. I love running because it doesn’t matter how fast or talented you are – what matters is that you are disciplined enough to try and are realistic enough to know that results take time. If the training didn’t require so much from you, the accomplishment of reaching the finish line wouldn’t taste nearly as sweet.
The more I practice physical therapy, the more I see the parallels between physical rehabilitation and endurance sports such as running. Just like training, recovering from an injury or surgery takes patience and discipline. There are rarely quick fixes in rehabilitation. Getting the body back to its pre-injured state takes time, and it takes commitment. This school of thought runs contrary to the norm of our fast-paced culture that seeks instant gratification. We want results but aren’t always willing to wait for them.
I see this mindset all the time in rehabilitation. Many patients have expectations that they will quickly return back to normal after a surgery or injury. They don’t realize that the body has its own agenda and own timetable it must follow for optimal recovery. Adaptations following an injury or surgery take time. The human body has an amazing capacity to heal; however, full healing cannot occur if you don’t give your body everything it needs for success. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes for this process. Recovering from an injury requires daily and weekly work on things like joint motion, flexibility, tissue gliding, joint stability, strength, balance and re-learning optimal movement.
The common theme behind recovering from an injury and training for a race is that they both take time. Most people can’t run a marathon without first investing time in training. The same holds true for full recovery following an injury – you must put in some work if you wish to have optimal results. Most importantly, results don’t happen overnight. Just like marathon training, successful recovery from an injury requires time, commitment and a willingness to stay focused and in it for the long run. This is the key to obtaining optimal results and experiencing the joyful sense of accomplishment that comes from reaching the finish line.