3 Mindsets That Inhibit Recovery When Injured
As Muay Thai practitioners, we can be too tough for our own good. This should be no surprise- after all, the mind is our biggest motivator in Muay Thai.
It’s the mind that pushes us through those last grueling 50-kick sets. It’s the quiet voice in your head that urges you to finish strong when there’s only 30 seconds left to go in a sparring round. Just by sheer determination alone can accomplish amazing feats of physical strength.
The average dedicated Nak Muay may find themselves pushing through sharp pains on every strike or frequently pivoting on swelling joints. However, there are times when the mind is willing but the body is not. That stinging and aggravating discomfort may actually be a sign of an injury that’s far worse than it feels.
Rather than taking a step back to recover, here are some of the common type of mindsets that may end up exacerbating a serious injury or prolonging recovery.
#1: “I’ll lose all my progress.”
Much like riding a bike, once you learn the basics on how to balance, you won’t suddenly forget how to ride several years later. Throwing a roundhouse or punch is no different. You won’t ever truly fail to recall how a roundhouse is executed once you have thrown one.
The hardest part is just learning how to pull off a certain move. Once that skill barrier has been crossed, everything after serves to fine-tune what has been learned.
Thus, all Muay Thai techniques that are drilled day in day out improve incrementally your skill set. You won’t see a sudden tangible spike in proficiency, but rather a smoother incline in performance that occurs little by little over time (you might not even notice it along the way). So when you stop to nurse an injury, think of it as merely “pausing” progress instead of “losing” it.
#2: “I’ll be stronger if I train like this.”
This mindset is often confused with the overtraining mentality. The simplified concept of this ill-informed mentality is that constantly pushing at sub-optimal levels of performance will lead to a tremendous increase when the body is at its peak 100%. This is a gross misconcept of overtraining.
Ignoring the pain, constantly pivoting on a grotesquely swollen knee, or punching on an inflamed wrist that’s about to fold after another couple of repetitions is not overtraining. You will not be stronger if you train like that. Even worse, you might not ever be able to reach 100% peak level to reap the fruits of labor if permanent bodily injuries are created.
#3: “I can power through this.”
Attending Muay Thai sessions consistently alone is enough to tell you about your own mental fortitude. You absolutely can / will power through anything you put your mind through. However, agonizing pains or discomfort is not just a phase that eventually subsides after several repetitions. Yet some may still find themselves proving that pain will never get the best of them. Mental toughness will help push through an injury, but it will not mend it.
There’s also a time and place for this type of mindset. Bring this type of mentality out when it matters most: when it’s down to the line and there is actual opposition across the ring. Otherwise, it’s just not worth it to wreck a limb and risk a serious injuring during a regular session on a heavy bag.
Don’t panic over every type of discomfort, but do make an educated decision on taking time off or getting an sharp sensation checked out. Nobody knows what your body is capable of besides yourself, so it’s imperative that we make honest assessments when it comes to our own body.
Muay Thai will always be here whether or not you decide to take a week, month or even a year off to prevent and nurse a major injury. The mind is a strong weapon, but don’t forget to listen to the body as well!
- Daniel Nguyen is a packaging engineer who trains Muay Thai as a passionate hobby. With a smoker fight under his belt, his ultimate goal is to convince others to join in by conveying his passion for the sport and writing about his experiences.