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Psychology techniques for sports injuries

Psychology techniques for sports injuries

April 4, 2024

Injuries are an experience for which, sooner or later, all athletes pass.

However, these physical conditions can sometimes become a big problem if they occur repeatedly or if they affect other aspects of our game. That is why many times you search psychological counseling when it comes to overcoming injuries , but in what way can our mental resources intervene in our physical integrity?

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The impact of injuries on the athlete's mind

On the one hand, there are aspects of our personality that may imply a certain predisposition to suffer sports injuries, that is, there are individual differences between each athlete that make them "more or less psychologically vulnerable to injury".

For example, a person with a responsible coping style (one that focuses on aspects of his life that are under his control, such as his skill or training) will tend to suffer injuries less frequently than another person with a style of victimizing coping (that is, the one that usually focuses on external elements such as the state of the turf, the hardness of the rival, etc.).

The importance of stress

On the other hand, the psychological phenomenon that has been most related to the probability of injury in an athlete is stress.

Stress is an adaptive response designed to overcome moments of maximum environmental demand. It is a psychological resource that finds its use in providing us with an excess of energy that was used to flee or face a threat, and given its great usefulness it has been transmitted to us generation after generation. However, sometimes our body gives this response to situations that are not life-threatening, such as a test, a job interview or an important match.

In this way, stress entails certain useful consequences against rival tribes or saber-toothed tigers, but not so adaptive in a football game.

On one side, our attentional processes of narrow , which allows us to focus absolutely on the threatening and priority stimulus, but prevent us from generating the broad attention that most sports require.

On the other hand, our muscle tone can be affected , leaving our physique in not optimum conditions to carry out the corresponding action and, therefore, more vulnerable to suffer an injury. Thus, proper stress management is a priority in sports if we want to prevent injuries.

Psychologically manage the effects of the injury

Any sport involves the competition component and, therefore, all sports involve pressure (even more so if we talk about high performance sport). Thus, the secret is not in reducing the pressure or fighting it, but in learning to manage it.

Among the techniques aimed at stress management, we could highlight two:

1. Cognitive restructuring

Oriented transform irrational beliefs into others more adaptive to the context . For example, the belief "we are a bad team" can suppose an added stress, being this logically refutable ("we have had bad results, but we work to improve"). Beliefs establish our world and determine our behaviors, so it is a basic pillar to work in sports psychology and injury prevention.

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2. Relaxation techniques

Once we detect the optimal level of activation of our athlete, that is, the level of physiological activation to which he tends to perform better, we must train him in relaxation techniques designed to reduce this activation when he exceeds this level. Controlled breathing, muscle relaxation and other similar resources can be a good choice when it comes to combating this physiological anxiety.

  • Related article: "6 easy relaxation techniques to combat stress"


Regarding the rehabilitation period , the most remarkable psychological variables are given at the emotional level.

Motivation is a key factor in relation to adherence to treatment, and to maintain its highest levels usually resort to the establishment of short-term objectives, whose fulfillment is expected to generate a perception of self-efficacy in the athlete who in turn encourages his motivation for the exercises to be performed, both physically and psychologically. On the other hand, the training in emotional intelligence It can also be a good solution.

On the other hand, all these techniques can be extrapolated to many other contexts of the sporting and personal life of each player, so this fact can be used to focus the period of inactivity As a further learning, and since we will all be injured sooner or later, we can turn this obstacle into an opportunity if we manage it properly.

The role of sport psychology in recovery from an injury (April 2024).

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