Psychological techniques for sports injuries

Injury is an experience that sooner or later all athletes go through.

However, these physical conditions can sometimes become a big problem if they occur on a recurring basis or if they affect other aspects of our game. This is why it is often sought after. psychological counseling to overcome injuriesBut how can our mental resources intervene in our physical integrity?

    The impact of injuries on the athlete’s mind

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

    To give an example, someone with a responsible coping style (who focuses on areas of their life that are under their control, such as skills or training) will tend to be injured less frequently than someone else. with a victimistic coping style. (i.e., one that usually focuses on external elements such as turf condition, rival toughness, etc.).

    The importance of stress

    On the other hand, the psychological phenomenon that has been most closely linked to the likelihood 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 excess energy that has been used to escape or face a threat, and given its great usefulness has been passed down to us from generation to generation. However, sometimes our bodies give this response to non-life threatening situations, like an exam, job interview, or an important match.

    So, stress has some useful consequences against rival tribes or saber-toothed tigers, but not as adaptive in a soccer game.

    On the one hand, our attentional processes tightenThis allows us to focus absolutely on the threatening and overriding stimulus, but prevents us from generating that broad focus that most sports demand.

    On another side, our muscle tone may be affected, Leaving our body in suboptimal conditions to perform the appropriate action and therefore more vulnerable to injury. Thus, good stress management is a priority in sport if we want to avoid injuries.

    Psychologically manage the effects of the injury

    Every sport has a competition component and therefore all sports put pressure (even more if we are talking about high level sport). So the secret is not to reduce the pressure or fight it, but to learn how to manage it.

    Among the stress management techniques, we could highlight two:

    1. Cognitive restructuring

    focused towards transform irrational beliefs into beliefs more adaptive to the context. For example, the belief “we are a bad team” can be an additional stress, this being logically refutable (“we had bad results, but we are working to improve ourselves”). Beliefs establish our world and determine our behaviors, so this is a basic pillar to work on in sports psychology and injury prevention.

      2. Relaxation techniques

      Once we have detected the optimal level of activation of our athlete, that is, the level of physiological activation that tends to work best, we need to practice relaxation techniques designed to reduce this activation. when it exceeds this level. Controlled breathing, muscle relaxation and other similar resources can be a good choice to combat this physiological anxiety.

        rehabilitation

        As for the rehabilitation periodThe most notable psychological variables arise at the emotional level.

        Motivation is a key factor in regards to treatment adherence, and to maintain highest levels is generally used to set short-term goals, adherence is believed to generate a perception of self-efficacy in the patient. athlete who in turn encourages his motivation for the exercises to be performed, both physically and psychologically. On another side, emotional intelligence training 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 that this fact it can be used to concentrate the period of inactivity as one more learning, and as we will all be hurt sooner or later, we can turn this obstacle into an opportunity if we handle it correctly.

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