Postdate: 21 August 2017
When doing sports such as running, horse riding, fitness, and football, the risk of getting an injury increases significantly. Common injuries are those on the knees, ankles, back, and neck. In this blog, we will explain more about injuries and mental resilience. This is because an injury can cause a lot of stress: sometimes even resulting in mental problems.
Stress and injuries
According to this research presented in the Journal of Sports, Science & Medicine, your personality, ability to cope, and stress level determine how receptive you are to stress and, therefore, to injuries. In psychology, 'coping' means dealing with stress and problems. When you try to discard pain or you don't take action, then this can indirectly lead to an increased risk of injuries. When, as an athlete, you experience far-reaching events that cause stress, such as a divorce or moving house, then this will also partially determine the chance of getting an injury. When you find yourself in a threatening situation, then this impacts on your stress reaction. This reaction may result in a disturbance in your attention span, for example because your field of vision is reduced by stress. Besides that, stress can also have an adverse effect on your coordination and flexibility. Do you have coping abilities such as a healthy lifestyle and good social contacts? Then this will probably make it easier to cope with stressful situations and, therefore, reduce the chance of getting an injury.
Mental health consequences of injuries
When you have a serious injury and you do a team sport, then it can be mentally hard not being able to participate. It is often not even because of the injury itself, but about the way you assess and experience it. Depending on the extent and intensity of the sport and the severity of the injury, you may have to deal with the following mental issues:
You lose your fitness and daily routine
You have the feeling that you (temporarily) lose contact with your team mates.
You feel helpless and dependent due to your impairments
You have the feeling of 'failure'
You lose (part of your) self-esteem
You no longer get the mental reward
These psychological changes can lead to stress and negative thoughts and this, in turn, can make it harder for you to recover from your injury. Progressive relaxation can help to relax, so your recovery process is speeded up. This is done by focusing on the perception and releasing the muscle tension. Nevertheless, it is better to avoid getting injuries. Athletes who develop mental skills, such as setting goals, are more adept in dealing with stress. They are less likely to incur an injury and, and they will have a lower stress level after an injury.
This means that your mental resilience can contribute to the chance of getting an injury and to the recovery from it. It works like a vicious circle: stress leads to a higher risk of getting injured, and an injury usually leads to more stress. In the end, it is important to not just concern yourself about the physical strain, but especially to focus on the mental strain during your recovery.
'Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one'