After following the P.R.I.C.E (Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) protocol for sprains, which we covered in Part 1, for a couple of days until the swelling reduced, Daliah was able to gently and slowly rotate and flex her foot, and point her toes. There was no numbness or tingling, so she could be confident that the ankle wasn’t broken or ligaments badly torn.
“I have moved on from using the Wintergreen ™Ice Spray, which helped to relieve the initial pain, to using Wintergreen™Icy Arnica Gel, gently applied to the swollen, bruised area at least four times a day, to further reduce inflammation and the severity of the bruising. It’s going to take at least two weeks before my ankle is healed, and 4 weeks before I can start exercising again, which is incredibly frustrating. It’s time to start using some of the other tools in my toolkit!” she says.
As a sports massage therapist to elite athletes around the world, Daliah knows all too well the mental strain that comes with being out of action for extended periods of time. This led her to explore and study further in the fields of mental and holistic health, and the effects the mind can have in helping to overcome obstacles, heal, and keep the body performing at its best.
MIND OVER MATTER
Most professional sportsmen and women understand that mental strength can positively impact their performance. Michael Phelps, Conor McGregor, Cristiano Ronaldo, the late Kobe Bryant, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, to name a few, have all spoken openly and often about the mental process they follow to achieve peak mental and physical strength.
Mental tools such as visualization, positive self-talk and affirmations can give you the edge on the track and field or in the pool, boost your confidence and keep you going when your body feels like there isn’t anything left in the tank.
While the conscious mind controls our awareness and ability to communicate and think on a daily basis, the subconscious mind holds all the information we have ever been exposed to without even being aware of it, and cannot distinguish between real and unreal. If the conscious mind is the tip of an iceberg, the subconscious is the rest of the iceberg that lies unseen, underwater, but that controls how we experience things.
The conscious mind gives us a wonderful opportunity to program the subconscious mind in any way we choose, so it makes sense to give it as much positive information as possible – just as we feed the body with good, healthy nutrients to perform at its best, we can feed the subconscious mind with positive thoughts that become our reality.
Says Daliah, “We want to feed the subconscious mind with good things and we can do this with the three P’s : Positivity, Present tense and Pictures.”
Positivity: this refers to positive self-talk and positive affirmations. The words you say to yourself become very important. Repeating an affirmation like “I’m healing fast and strong” goes straight to the subconscious mind and will be believed, which kicks off processes in the body like serotonin release which make you feel good. And the better you feel mentally, the less likely you are to get disheartened by a slow recovery or setback.
Write down 3 positive affirmations and repeat them daily, preferably just before sleep and when you wake up in the morning. If you find yourself reverting back to negative feelings or thoughts, just keep repeating your affirmations, or list 5 things you are grateful for and try to really feel that gratitude, watch something that makes you laugh or even just fake a smile – fake it until you make it!
Present tense: by keeping your words in the present tense, for example “I am strong and full of energy”, you are telling the subconscious mind to believe that this is the truth right now. Your subconscious mind does not recognise future tense. Try to really feel the emotion that goes with your affirmation. “I am” are truly two of the most powerful words you will ever speak, so be mindful of how you use them!
Pictures: World Champion Golfer, Jack Nicklaus once said: “I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp in-focus picture of it in my head."
Creating a clear, detailed picture in your mind of what you want to achieve is one of the most effective ways of programming your subconscious to make it your conscious reality. This technique really is like a secret superpower, and is used extensively by elite athletes and sports people around the world.
Says Daliah, “For me right now, imagining or visualizing myself running pain free with my golden retrievers next to me, with a huge smile on my face, would be a perfect image to keep replaying in my head as often as possible. By really immersing yourself in the image you can ‘trick’ the subconscious mind into believing that this image is real and happening right now. So I try to feel the wind passing over me as I run, I may feel and see goosebumps on my skin as it’s early in the morning, I can feel the sun beginning to warm me up, I smell the freshly cut grass as I pass it, and hear birds chirping and my dogs barking as we run with ease. The more detail the better.”
Another option is to visualize how your injury is healing, seeing how the ligaments of the ankle are getting stronger and how the body is circulating healthy blood to heal the injury.
“I imagine how when I rub the Icy Arnica gel into the skin, I see the blue gel being absorbed into the body, into the ligaments and into the cells reducing inflammation, healing micro tears in the muscle and relieving pain. If I’d had a cut or broken bone I would visualize the cells regenerating and knitting back together closing the cut or healing the bone, making it stronger,” she says.
The physical protocols of P.R.I.C.E. for sprains with Wintergreen Ice Spray and Icy Arnica Gel, together with the three P’s for mental strength and reprogramming your subconscious mind for a positive mindset, will all work together holistically to get you back on your feet and feeling like a champion again!