Most of the professional athletes I know, including myself, have been faced with injuries. It’s just a fact and it’s one of the leading setbacks we can experience, so let’s deal with it. Working with a top physiotherapist will definitely improve and accelerate your recovery. But being injured is not only physical, it’s also psychological and it will affect your mind more then you think.
“If you are not in a positive mindset, your recovery process will take much longer and you end up losing precious time!”
Injured athletes will experience stress and a number of emotional responses like anxiety, fear, anger, tension, fatigue, disbelief, lack of motivation, and irritation. It’s clear: if you are not in a positive mindset, your recovery process will take much longer and you end up losing precious time.
In my career as a Sports and High performance psychologist, I have seen some athletes with a more positive response which leads to a faster comeback. I also have seen the other extreme, injured athletes struggling emotionally and almost giving up their dreams.
In the second case, these negative emotions become very problematic when symptoms do not resolve fast enough. If an athlete is showing problematic symptoms of negative affect as a consequence of their injury, it is very important for them to seek assistance from a sports psychologist who can help them manage and more effectively deal with their injury thus helping their injury recovery process.
Research has shown that negative emotions experienced by injured athletes can influence athletes’ attitudes toward and subsequent recovery from injury. In other words, the more positive you stay, the faster you will recover. The use of psychological strategies, techniques and tools will improve injury recovery, mood during recovery, coping, confidence restoration, pain management, and adherence to treatment protocol.
Psychological skills such as goal setting, imagery and relaxation can help athletes deal better with stress, reducing chances of injury and stress of injury should it occur. Even athletes who deal with injury effectively can still benefit from learning these strategies as they can be used to enhance performance on a consistent basis.
Other psychological skills used to deal effectively with injury can also be used to enhance performance after their return from injury. These include self-talk, to help athletes have a positive attitude to rehabilitation and build confidence, and problem solving to help cope with setbacks and look for opportunities.
My job as a Sports and High Performance psychologist is to raise awareness and help you commit to your goals. And when injured, it is probably one of the most important factors for a faster comeback!