I love watching the Olympics and have thoroughly enjoyed the winter games.
I’ve long been fascinated with the complexity of the human body, the power of the mind and the resilience of the human spirit. To me, Olympic athletes are incredibly inspiring in their commitment to excellence and goal achievement are the personification of mind-body-spirit integration. It was no surprise to learn that many Olympic athletes include mind body disciplines such as Pilates and yoga as part of their training regime. Aside from the obvious benefits of muscle strength and flexibility, both of these disciplines integrate physical precision with the power of the breath to enhance performance, mindfulness and focus. And Pilates, with its’ roots in rehabilitation, is the perfect training tool when healing from an injury.
The Olympic Story
The Olympians stories fascinate me too. The love of their sport along with the many years of dedicated training pushing their body and will to the limit. Not to mention pure toughness and pain tolerance to endure the prerequisite falls and wipe outs. Bruised, but not broken they keep at it again and again until they achieve their peak potential.
Some Olympic hopefuls sustain injuries that threaten not only their future as a world class athlete, but their very life! We’ve heard about neck fractures, unconsciousness, a slash of a major blood vessel and even brain damage –all in the pursuit of the Olympic dream. It’s utterly inspiring to see the triumph of the human spirit in these athletes that endure the grueling process of rehab and retraining only to face their fears and attempt the very feat that landed them in the hospital. What is the source of this courage and determination that drives these amazing athletes to push themselves to the edge? Are they hard wired this way or are these traits a conditioned response developed over many years?
The Best Way to Rehab
As an occupational therapist I’ve been honored to be part of a rehab team helping, not elite athletes, but every day people put their lives back together after an accident or illness. I’ve seen how determination, hard work and a positive attitude will fuel an individual to achieve their best outcome. For some this is a full recovery, but many others are required to adapt to a different physical body or cognitive profile. And in the spirit of refusing to accept limitations, they shun the concept of a disability and embrace that they are now ‘differently able’.
In both Olympic athletes and everyday people the extraordinary is possible when the power of the human spirit rises above all.