10 Ways to Rehab Your Body Image (and Prehab Your Kid’s)

I’m a runner. Running is of my favorite things to do. I love it so much, in fact, that I often find myself logging too many miles, too many days of the week, which, invariably, results in injury. 

I’ve had shin splints, stress fractures, recurring tendonitis, and bursitis like you wouldn’t believe and all of those injuries have sidelined me. They’ve forced me to rehabilitate or “rehab” each injury until it healed, and I could run again.

Rehabbing a sports injury can be tough. The process can be uncomfortable and, at times, lengthy. And it involves reactive therapeutic efforts. With each injury, I’ve wished I’d taken proactive measures to avoid that injury in the first place. I internally chide myself for not embracing  “prehab,” or taking preventative steps like sports-specific exercises, stretching, foam rolling, or taking more rest days. It seems I never learn. 

Mired in self-pity over my latest injury, I started thinking about the concept of repairing or “rehabbing” body image. It struck me that body image rehab is analogous to rehabilitating a sports or fitness injury, in that it takes time and effort, and requires reactive measures. But as with sports injuries, prehabbing body image is preferable to rehabbing it, as it can be considerably more difficult to repair damage already sustained. The best outcome, in either case, is to prevent the injury altogether.

Many of us – men and women – are in need of some measure of body image rehab. 

  • In a recent survey, more than 40% of women and about 20% of men agreed they would consider cosmetic surgery in the future. The statistics remain relatively constant across gender, age, marital status, and race.
  • By age 6, girls, especially, start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life.
  • More than 90 percent of girls (15 to 17 years) want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, with body weight ranking the highest. Nearly a quarter would consider undergoing plastic surgery.

So how did it come to this? Simple – a lack of…

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