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Published on: 19-Jun-2022

A sports injury is something all athletes fear, even though they know that there is always a risk of sustaining one on the field. In some sports, the risks could be significantly higher than in others, like in the case of contact sports that often have an intense physical strain on the body. Due to the fact that the body of an athlete is already pushed to the limit and the nature of the game, there is a higher risk for the athletes to sustain injury. 

The recovery and injury management for an athlete is not easy. Additionally, various factors can contribute to its processes and outcomes. One of these is the psychological factors the athlete experiences after the injury and during the recovery.  

Athletes who experience psychological problems could take longer to recover from their injuries, and they seldom think of the consequences. Their will to succeed and be the best could influence their mental capacity for healing—making managing these factors even more important. 

The psychological factors impacting sports injury management give many therapists an indication of whether the athlete may need more or less assistance during the recovery and rehabilitation for them to be able to perform back on the sports field. Therefore, therapists will assess these factors after a sports injury to give them the insight they need to manage the outcomes successfully during recovery.

Furthermore, here are some of the ways psychological factors affect an athlete’s sports injury management:

  • Negative Or Defeatist Attitudes May Delay Healing

Sustaining an injury is one of the challenges athletes face. To most, an injury may cause great emotional upheaval. They may feel sadness, frustration, lack of motivation, or others. However, having such may hinder or delay the success of their recovery.

Athletes with a negative mindset might struggle more during their recovery. Additionally, if they lose focus during their recovery because of these lingering psychological issues, it may delay their body’s ability to heal. It could mean that the athlete will take even longer to get back into a training schedule, let alone a very taxing one.

With this, support and encouragement from their family, friends, team members, and the medical team is encouraged as this may help them recover better and faster. Additionally, injured athletes can visit clinical counselors for professional guidance to overcome the psychological stresses they experience after an injury. For more information, you can visit https://wellbeingscounselling.ca/

  • Anxiety And Stress Can Put More Strain On The Body

After an injury, athletes feel compelled to return to their routine quicker than they should. Instead, this could cause them to lose focus on adequately using equipment, noticing aches and pains to indicate they need to rest, or keep going without thinking of its toll on their bodies. These factors could thus cause further injury.

When athletes injure themselves during rehabilitation exercises, it could make them more depressed or anxious, putting further stress on their systems. Symptoms like disturbed eating and sleeping patterns harm the physical body too. The body can no longer optimally function if it doesn’t receive the correct amount of nutrients needed for the systems to heal and recover, and the same would happen when the athlete doesn’t get enough rest.

These factors put undue pressure on them to perform, keeping them from healing correctly before getting back into the game, and the unhealthy cycle starts again. Athletes impede their recovery process by adding more stress and strain to the process.

  • Psychological Issues May Affect Cognitive Abilities

When struggling with a psychological issue, it may be very challenging for athletes to set goals for their training and performance and act on them appropriately. They may also struggle to see the bigger picture and encourage themselves, and they may have negative thoughts that impact their mindset about their recovery.

Athletes who lose sight of their purpose as sports figures could easily expose themselves to a long, challenging recovery. Therapists trying their best to assist the injured athlete will have to work twice as hard, too, and won’t be able to set realistic therapy goals either.

Weak physical structures and systems of the body contribute to the ease with which these athletes would get injured again. With their mental health not in top condition, they are more prone to have severe side effects and delayed healing.

Managing The Psychological Factors

To assist athletes to overcome their physical and psychological pitfalls, there are a few support systems they can turn to. Some athletes tend to forget that there are all these resources available, so below there are some ways for them to manage their psychological factors:

  • Discuss The Effect Of Their Mindset On Recovery

Medical professionals should make their patients aware of the effect of their mindset on their recovery. Once athletes know the facts and how to address their mental state, they are empowered to take charge of their recovery process by adjusting their mindset.

  • Therapy Or Counseling Sessions

Therapists and counselors who notice that the athletes are struggling should insist that they continue their recovery until they are mentally and physically healthy enough to return to training. There is no shame in doing this to keep the mind and body healthy enough to compete in sports.

  • Continuous Monitoring

Not only does the coach, therapist, or counselor have a responsibility to follow up constantly with their athletes or patients, families and friends can share in the monitoring of the athlete’s mental and physical health. Regular check-ins could be worth more to the athlete than they would ever admit.

  • Prevention Of Symptoms

Perhaps the best way to address athletes’ mental health or psychological factors would be to prevent them from causing more significant problems. Athletes should set positive, achievable goals for themselves, get enough relaxation between sessions, practice positive self-talk, adjust their mindset, and find a social release for frustrations.

The Final Word

Athletes work hard, train hard, play hard, and sometimes fall hard after a sports-related injury. The tremendous pressure on them to perform at their peak all the time may become overwhelming and lead to deeper issues for their physical health.

A trained, professional counselor or therapist with knowledge about the impact of psychological factors on an athlete’s health would be the best person to talk to when symptoms first start to appear. Athletes should focus on getting the issue sorted out quickly and with the proper help and not ignore that they are harming themselves otherwise.

Understanding that psychological factors can impact physical health and injury recovery and management would change the perspective of the athletes, their coaches, family, and friends. It readjusts its focus to managing psychological factors during sports injuries and not only the betterment of their physical health.

By Heath G. Lentz is a Kinesiologist that specializes in sports injury recovery. With his vast experience, this 43-year-old skillfully assists his patients in providing the best outcomes.


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