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What Conor McGregor taught us about injury recovery

By: | Tags: , | Comments: 0 | December 11th, 2015

If you haven’t heard of Conor McGregor there is a high chance you have been hiding under a rock in the middle of nowhere for the last 2 years. Conor McGregor is the interim UFC featherweight champion. He is the Irish superstar who has taken the world of combat sports by storm. His appeal however extends far beyond the combat sports realm and for that reason he has built an army of loyal followers and fans all over the world.

He in my opinion the biggest star in the sport of MMA and I am sure that he would agree with that statement. Conor McGregors unique combination of attitude, character, wit, athleticism and skill is something very special. His success is a credit to all of this.

This will all be tested in the early hours of Sunday morning when he takes on arguably his toughest opponent to date, Jose Aldo, the UFC’s featherweight king. The widely regarded number one ranked pound for pound fighter in the world. Undefeated in over 10 years and the only man to ever hold the UFC featherweight title. A fight which I believe he will win. A fight he truly believes he will win.

That is the one thing about Conor McGregor which puts him head and shoulders above most in the MMA game. His mindset. His mindset is unbreakable. Bulletproof. He believes that he is the best pound for pound fighter in the world and is doing a bloody good job in convincing the rest of us. I certainly believe him.

He puts out to the universe what is going to happen and inevitably it happens. True to his word. He predicts his round and method of victory almost as though he has some sort of psychic power. We all know he doesn’t but it might appear that way from the outside.

He has visualized his contests and been through the rehearsals in his head so many times that things just happen naturally when he gets in there. Almost as though it was his destiny. Almost as though it was truly just meant to be. But the script wasn’t written for McGregor by someone else. He wrote the script himself. A script which began as an idea is his mind.

So what has any of this got to do with recovering from injury?

On August 17th 2013 in a bout against Max Holloway, Conor fully ruptured his ACL, tore his MCL and injured his medial meniscus. An injury which can be career ending for a lot of athletes. But Conor McGregor is not a normal athlete, he is a very special athlete. After injuring his knee he had this to say,

“I am going to come back better than anyone has ever come back before”

And he did. Within 11 months he was back competing at the highest level. Since then he has fought progressively tougher opponents and has looked unstoppable in doing so. Conor McGregor had the belief that he was going to be better than ever before and he made it happen. He had a vision and he was willing to work towards it.

His mindset regarding his injury was concrete just like his mindset regarding his training, his competition, his business and his whole life.

Recovery starts in your head

Before anything is achieved in your life you must first have the thought. That thought is what then turns into action which then puts the wheels in motion to bring that idea to life. Conor’s thought was that he would return better than ever before. He then started to work hard every day in order to bring that thought to reality. Less than a year later that thought became a reality.

After we suffer an injury most of us have a slightly different thought.

“It will probably never be the same” or put another way “Once you have had an injury you are never the same”.

I’m sure you have heard this from a close friend before. You have possibly even spoke these words for yourself or certainly had these thoughts for yourself. I am going to hold my hands up and say I have had the exact same thoughts.

The problem with these type of thoughts are that they are damaging. They mould our actions and ulitmately lead to our realities. Thinking, “I am never going to be the same” inevitably leads to never being the same. It changes the way we approach our rehab, our training and our goals moving forward. It lowers the bar of expectation and ultimately we end up meeting that low expectation and never exceed it.

Our thoughts place a ceiling on our recovery. A ceiling that caps our recovery. A ceiling that Conor never allowed to be put in place in the first place.

Thinking like McGregor

So I am guess I am asking you to reframe your thoughts around your injury. Tell yourself that you are going to recover and actually believe it. Tell yourself that you will be able to do everything you could previously and actually believe it. Tell yourself that you will actually be able to do it better than before and actually believe it.

Then go out and make it happen. Put the hard work in and stay focused on the outcome. Find the right information. Work with right professionals. Do what is needed and then do more. You will be surprised how such a simple mindset shift can change everything for you.It is changing everything for me. Not only regarding my previous injuries but for my life in general.

For that Mr McGregor I thank you!

Dale Hardiman
Dale Hardiman is the director and clinical lead at Hardiman Performance. His passion for health and performance started with his career in the elite Royal Marines Commandos and professional competition in MMA. Suffering from pain and injuries in the past, Dales mission is to help you get free from pain, performing at your optimum and back to living the life you want.

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