What is Resilience?

What is Resilience?

Webster’s Dictionary says resilience is “the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress.” Psychology Today says resilience is “is the psychological quality that allows some people to be knocked down by the adversities of life and come back at least as strong as before.” 

Resilience is your ability not only to return to a  previous level of functioning (e.g., bouncing back or recovery), but also to and adapt and thrive, to adjust to a new situation and move to a superior level of functioning. There is a mind/body connection when it comes to resilience. How much stress can your body recover from and how much stress can you mind recover from. Put the two together and you become resilient! 

On the physical side, this paper gives us some insight into tissue resilience which is defined as “the is the ability of a material to absorb energy under elastic deformation and to recover this energy at removal of load. It indicates the competence of a certain material to hold a certain stress without permanent deformation.” Think about resilience and training stimulus. Are you training at a level that pushes your bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles to their limit without going over the edge of your ability?  

Proper use of resistance training allows for adaptation to load. This creates an environment for becoming more robust. It will not make you injury-proof but will dramatically mitigate injury risk and you will be more likely to bounce back from injury should it occur. The art of a great coach is finding and keeping you within your sweet spot of training and recovery. 

For athletes high training loads and high-demand competitions require maximum levels of performance which may cause great physical and mental exhaustion, as well as exposing these athletes to an elevated risk for injury from either exhaustion or direct physical contact. Both physical and psychological resilience are important in order to both cope with adversity and enhance performance. 

The paper states, “Resilience involves the capacity to bounce back from challenging situations but, it also provides the opportunity for personal growth. Resilience is not necessarily a personal trait, but involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that an individual can learn and develop over time.” 

In a study of elite Brazilian rhythmic gymnasts, social support was the most important factor for facing adversities. Staying in touch with family and friends was the key, especially for athletes who traveled. The love of their sport as well as total focus on improving performance kept these athletes more confident and able to control their emotions.  

The biggest factor for negative stress was injuries. Resilience helped the athlete to overcome the initial negative emotions attached to being injured and helped them more actively engage in the rehabilitation process. This resulted in a faster return to training and even competition. 

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