Psychology And Sustaining An Injury

Sports injuries and the psychological impact

Sustaining a knee injury is a common occurrence for athletes and individuals who participate in sport. It can be one of the greatest setbacks for a sports person to experience and, aside from experiencing physical pain, it can bring about a number of emotional responses and stress. 

Most athletes will claim sport is part of their identity and therefore a major part of their life. An injury can lead to feelings of negative personal connotations and take away the positive reinforcements that sport brings them, such as autonomy and control.

Whilst each individual will experience different emotional responses to their injury, some emotions are much more commonly reported than others. These particular emotions experienced include: anxiety, fear, tension, disbelief, irritation and lack of motivation. It’s completely normal for an athlete to display these response emotions, however, not all athletes will experience an emotional disturbance. This is largely dependent on external circumstances, such as sustaining a previous injury and knowing how to deal with the reoccurrence, or the individual’s personality traits; whereby they are naturally able to effectively resolve emotional responses and take an injury in their stride.

Although no predictable emotional response sequence can be created to determine the emotional pattern an athlete will display, there a several categories that often reoccur due to poor adjustment to the injury:

  • Denial
  • Obsession
  • Bargaining
  • Dwelling
  • Guilt
  • Withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Alterations in sleep and diet
  • Experiencing re-injury 

There are certain psychological skills, such as relaxation, problem solving and goal setting, which can help you to deal with the stress of an injury. In turn, these will aid physical recovery as stress can affect our immune function and muscle tension. Additionally, athletes who deal with sustaining an injury effectively can benefit from practising these skills as they can be applied to other aspects of their life.

It’s essential for any athlete or sports person to be educated about their particular injury and the recovery process. By having clear expectations and remaining informed throughout, the athlete’s uncertainty will be reduced and their attention can be focused on the best possible recovery. 

No votes yet