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How to Overcome Fear after Injury

You’ve probably heard the saying, “fall hard seven times, rise up eight times.” Does it sound like an easy task? Well, when you suffer an injury it’s definitely not as easy as it sounds! After I broke my ankle, I got really scared. You can imagine I was scared of not being able to walk or run ever again, but the biggest fear was of being re-injured again. Of doing something that would damage my healing tendons or cause the fracture in the bone to open again. But my fear did not paralyze me. It did not stop me from making progress until I finally got to run and swim and bike again! So I know you can overcome this, if your post-injury fear still keeps you paralyzed.

Here are three tips to help you remove that fear and get you moving!

Don't let the fear paralyze you. Read: How to Overcome Fear after Injury. Click To Tweet

Talk to your mind

Never, ever underestimate the power of positive visualization. Fear can be a warning sometimes, but more often it comes from unrealistic events and expectations in your head. Therefore, you have to talk to your mind and calm yourself. Calming yourself will release the  tensions in your muscles. My personal daily mantra during  the recovery was “My body is capable of doing this. I am totally safe.” Everyday I would say that to myself to get rid of my fears. I would greet every new challenge I faced (and you know you face plenty of challenges getting back up after an injury).

Recovery is not only a physical thing. It is also an emotional and psychological experience.

Most athletes that do not recover quickly have negative thoughts and emotions, including fear! Imagine the fear of not being able to compete again. But there are those that recover better because they keep their vision of being able to step on the playing field again. What are the positive affirmations you can tell yourself? Here are some examples:

  1. I am strong and healthy. My body is repairing itself.
  2. I am improving day by day. I will be pain free.
  3. My body is full of energy. Everyday I am getting better.
  4. I will _________ (insert physical activity you enjoy) soon.

I suggest that you post your daily mantra or positive affirmation in a place where you can read it everyday. Place it in your bedroom. Have a small note on your bathroom mirror. Keep reminding yourself of it throughout the day – this will make it even easier to draw strength from when you need it.

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Relax your muscles

Did you know fear makes you tense up? When you are scared or afraid, your muscles are tighter – you’re basically poised for action, fight or flight.

This can lead to you experiencing more pain when you walk or run, because your tendons are probably tight already, and you’re adding tight muscles into the mix as well.

That’s why my first tip is to be more relaxed and practice positive affirmations. Now go one step further and bring some visualization to your physical state of being. Just imagine having a good massage after a long day. Doesn’t it feel great? Aren’t your muscles relaxed? That state must be your state during your recovery. Being physically paralyzed by fear can lead to more physically pain, which makes it harder to take the necessary steps forward. So if you find yourself tensing up at the thought of physiotherapy or doing the exercises that you know will benefit you in the long run, do some relaxation techniques.

First, calm yourself by taking a few deep breaths, following each breath all the way down as it enters your body and fills your lungs, then out again. Then take a minute or two to visualize each part of your body loosening up and relaxing. This will help you to keep your muscles relaxed and soon, you’ll be running again!

Being physically paralyzed by fear can lead to more physical pain. Click To Tweet

Find a mentor

It’s really normal to be afraid or feel anxious about recovery. That is why having someone mentor you through it can help you move through this process better. You will of course get the necessary medical treatment from your doctor and will likely go through quite a few physiotherapy sessions. But a mentor or a coach can help you set timelines and goals during your recovery, be there to track your progress, motivate you and hold you accountable when necessary.

Find someone who can relate to what you’re experiencing.

This can be a friend, it can be a partner or relative, or it can be someone who’s in the business of helping people achieve the best possible results, no matter what the situation. If you need an injury recovery expert who understands what you’re going through, then schedule a call below so that we can have a look at your current situation, your goals, and set the plan for you to reach them!

When healing physical trauma personalized guidance is priceless!

Book a call with Dr. Maya and discover how the Mindful Injury Recovery Method can help you heal quickly & effortlessly so that you can start enjoying your life again.

Much love xx

Dr. Maya

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31 Comments

  1. Donna Trombley

    Hi Maya.. more ankle surgery Thursday. . Im nervous. . But I appreciate your article. .it has been very inspiring. Thanks again.

    1. Dr. Maya Novak

      This is a tendon and ligament reconstruction surgery, right? Donna, I know it’s nerve wrecking, but everything will be ok! Thank you for sharing your story! xx

      1. Hello , I have a hamstring injury 3 times on the road over and over again and now I’m a bit fear and thinking like what if this happens again to me … can u help me by telling something ?

        1. Last year I broke my right wrist Snowboarding and then again later in the year playing Volleyball. (This time my left wrist) I have fully recovered, but sometimes have a tiny pain when I jerk my wrist too hard. I want to try Skateboarding, but my last break was so painful I don’t want to risk getting another broken wrist and having to go through all that a 3rd time. Any advice or suggestions?

    2. Kimberly A Parzuchowski

      I had calcaneous surgery about 8 weeks ago im now in walking boot.my swelling and bruising finally going away.im scared to death to walk on it.i have 7 screws in there.evenif i put a lil weight on it it hurts bad.any suggestions i want to walk again and get back to normal.

  2. Hey am really paralize at the moment I had my ankle dislocated and bone injury six months ago but now I recover but have limp walk and am so afraid to go out in wet conditions weather what if I slip again and cause same injury plz advice me

  3. I have had two ankle surgeries following a fib-tib break last May. I was Nwb first for six weeks, then twelve weeks after the ankle fusion. Then in a boot for six weeks…..was told today I don’t need the boot anymore, nor the walker!!! Eeeeeks!!! I am scared to death to put any weight on my very fragile leg! It feels naked without the boot. What do you suggest to get over this? I will certainly be praying!!!!

    Thanks!
    Diane Vruwink Carlson

    1. Anxious to hear when you finally got walking again…I’m in the same boat! Broke my tibia near the knee, was off it 8 weeks when I broke the fibula on the same side after trying to step ? it’s now been 13 weeks on the tin & 5weeks on the fib…I an scared to death! No PT all all because of Covid -_- I’m so weak & out of shape. Thanks ?

  4. Have just discovered your blog and vlogs after searching for advice following a bad ankle break in a climbing accident. Thanks for your guidance and encouragement, I’m sure I’ll be able to put it to good use when I start to get mobile again!

    1. I had orif surgery after breaking my fibtib 6 months ago. Wore a cast and then moonboot for 4 months. As a stiletto wearer I am terrified at the prospect of not getting into my heels again?. Currently I am back in shoes with it a visible limp which physio can’t seem to get rid of. Coupled with it really bad back spasms and discomfort when trying on my shoes! The one foot is even a size bigger.
      How do you ever get over the fear of injuring the ankle again? Even climbing stairs has me break out in a sweat……I still have hardware on both sides of the ankle and aren’t too keen on having it removed.
      Also….. The scars!!!!! At times it’s hard to look at.

      1. My 18 year old son just experienced a terrible fall climbing. Fractured both heels, ankles, and compound fracture to the left lower leg braking both fib and tib. Also broken arm. How are you now? He is going through all the emotions of the trauma as well as pain from injuries. Are you back to climbing?

        1. Dr. Maya Novak

          Hi Angie. I’m sorry to hear about your son’s accident and I know it’s not easy for him or you watching him going through this. I am doing very well – yes, I’m back to all of the activities, climbing as well, even though there are no walls to climb where we live now :). I completely recovered and now I’m helping others transform their recoveries and lives as well. It is important to cover all the aspects of recovery so it might be a good idea for him (and you) to check out The Mindful Injury Recovery World Summit where he will learn from 25 world’s top healing experts. Here is the link. Hope this helps ❤ xx

  5. My son (11) went through a bad broke arm last year on football field. 2 plates and multiple screws and he is healed fine. He is currently playing basketball but says he doesn’t want to play football next year. I’m trying to find ways to encourage him. He’s scared of breaking again or something else. He is very good and has natural talent for the sport hate to see him waste it.

  6. I got a fractured knee in the ocean and now I’m scared of the water and afraid to go swimming again. How can I get over this fear because I don’t want my love for swimming to go away

  7. I got 7 compression fractures in my back over 3 months mainly due to medication ( prednisone they believe). Those resulted in intense pain and two surgeries. I’m now so scared to do much of anything for fear of re-injuring my back. After physical therapy for 6 months I can walk pretty well but no stamina like prior. Just getting more and more depressed!

  8. Hi Maya, I was in a car accident over a year ago and I had an internal decapitation, 5 brain bleeds, a collapsed lung, my spinal cord was leaking fluid, a broken rib and a bruise. I had to have neck surgery my c1-c4 is fused and I had a tracheotomy and a feeding tube. My husband was told I would never be able to walk again and I would be in an long term care facility for the rest of my life… I’ve walked with a walker here and there but I’m honestly scared to death! I’ve had to relearn how to walk, eat, swallow talk every thing. Walking is honestly my biggest fear right now and I’ve never had any fears I’m 28 years old and have 3 children and my husband. I’m hoping you could give me some advice and what I could do to overcome my fears.

    1. Dr. Maya Novak

      My brave Kaitlin. I can imagine how scary this is for you. It is scary for my clients as well, however, with small steps (physical, mental and emotional) it is possible to get through this and become free of it. Here is another resource that will help you: Fear + How To Start Walking Again. If after watching this you want to explore even more of this with me, do reach out and let’s schedule a call. What do you say? ❤ With healing love xx

  9. I just came home from the hospital after cracking a part of my bone in my foot. I’ve been put in a boot but am terrified of walking in it since I keep tripping up. I’m also going on holiday soon so I was to get rid of my anxiety before then.

  10. So I fractured my fibula and recently it’s been healed celebrities that I’m afraid to run and do Sports it happened during a game of kickball and I’m afraid to do that as well what should I do

  11. Hello so 1month ago i broke my arm playing football(soccer), it was really hard for me emotianlyy i thpught i would never Play again,
    The doctor said its now healed but im still scared to play

  12. Hi I broke my ankle in 3 places about 10 weeks ago I’m starting to web on crutches but I’m terrified of steps but my toilet has a step to get in.its going up that makes me have a nervous breakdown I know it’s fine I’m allowed to pwb my physio has walked me through it and I have done it but I’m still so terrified. How can I stop this how can I feel better? My estimated recovery was 12 weeks it’s 10 now I’m still so far off

    1. Hi Elizabeth. Being afraid is very normal after being seriously injured – you absolutely are not alone. I have a feeling that there’s much more behind this than just what you’re describing. Would you agree? If so, and if you’d like my help and guidance, I suggest scheduling a call so that we can discuss your situation in detail. You can do this here (and, of course, if working with me privately interests you so that you become free from this fear ASAP and speed up your healing, please feel free to discover more about my program here).
      However, if you want to do this on your own, please feel free to search my website. You’ll find so many articles and videos that will help you. Here you’ll find different healing articles and videos, and then, of course, check Ask Maya series and Bite-Sized Mindful Healing series. Love ❤ xx

  13. Hi I had a spinal fusion about 10 yrs ago which left me with nerve damage in my left foot causing a permanent limp and ongoing back pain.I became very embarrassed about the way I walk and over time I walked less and less.I fell down the stairs about 3yrs ago causing a compound fracture to my lower spine and have required the use of a walker ever since.I dread having to use it and have created the fear of having to leave the house.Can you advise me on how to overcome this anxiety.

    1. Hi Jan. So sorry to hear about that. This must have been hard on you. There are a few very powerful processes for quick elimination of anxiety that I use with my clients, however, unfortunately, they all need personal guidance. Have you reached out to any other therapists/experts that could help you out? And yes, you can absolutely schedule a call with me to discuss your situation in more detail and how we can do this together. ❤

      1. Thank you for your reply.Yes I have just started seeing a phycologist but have just realised that all the anxiety and fear I feel are caused solely by my inability to accept my disability and all the things I am now unable to do.I would like to schedule a talk with you.

        1. Great to hear that you just started working with a therapist, Jan. And yes, please go ahead and schedule a Connection Call here: https://www.mayanovak.com/discovery/ We’ll talk in detail about your situation, what you need, and how I can support and guide you. If, at the end, we both feel that this is a good fit, we’ll talk about the next steps. ?

  14. in fell three wks ago taking out trash fell on my face have three fractured bones and small bruse to brain ,, i am afraid i may fall again … what can i do?

  15. This past March I strained my mcl playing basketball and I’ve been working my butt off to get all that strength back, but I’m still not ready yet. Volleyball starts tomorrow and I am dying to play, but I don’t know if I’m ready yet. How do I figure out when I’m ready?

    1. Dr. Maya Novak

      Lucy, it kind of sounds that you’re ready but just a bit doubtful which is normal after an injury. Take it easy tomorrow. Listen to your body and let her guide you instead of your ego. Hope this makes sense ❤

  16. Eleven months ago slipped on ice going down the steps of he porch! What I thought was a sprain was a fractured ankle wow! Had to get surgery they put screws pins an wire so I could walk again which I am greatful.What worries me is the ice everywhere I have ice pics on my boots but the fear of slipping an fallng is their in the back of my mind.Hoping as time goes on the fear will go away probably its stll fresh in my mind.What do you think

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