Mind and Body (I) – Psychological Factors For Sports Injury Rehabilitation
In the past, much of our efforts to rehabilitate an injured athlete focused on the physical causes and their treatment options. It leaves out much of the psychological dimensions of the injury and its rehabilitation. Today, psychological factors increasingly plays an important role in rehabilitation. This is particularly so for sports where there are greater time pressures to return the athlete to optimal peak peformance as quickly as posisble.
Psychological Factors For Sports Injury Rehabilitation
There are five key psychological factors – goal-setting, imagery, positive self-talk, relaxation and social support – that play an integral role in the recovery process.
Goal-setting is the most first important of the five factors that has to be established clearly. The remaining four factors are important in that they aid goal attainment.
Studies have shown that injured athletes using goal-setting exhibit greater performance improvement than those not using goal-setting.
Mental imagery is the process of using the imagination to rehearse, imagine or replay situations int he “theater of the mind”.
Positive-healing and/or sports performance imagery has shown to be correlated to faster recovery times. Unsurprisingly, negative imagery has the opposite effect. Examples of negative imagery includes replaying the injury scene excessively.
Positive self-talk is the process by which the athlete’s negative thoughts are redicted into positive, task-oriented thoughts and affirmations. Many athletes have the tendency to dwell on negative or irrational thoughts and beliefs about themselves. This is especially so in areas such as their injury, or their return to performance. Following injury, positive self-talk techniques are useful to help counteract the problem of low self-condifence in athletes.
Relaxation training is a recommended psychological tool for use with injured athletes during rehabilitation. This is don in conjunction with the other techniques to relieve pain and stress. Staying loose and relaxed facilitates recovery.
Social support systems for athletes include family and friends, and relationships with team-mates, coaches, and the therapists. It is found to be effective in helping the athlete make a better appraisal of their situation (towards a positive imagery) and through the emotional adjustment process.
The next article in this series, Mind and Body (II) – Mental Goals for Sports Injury Rehabilitation, and Mind And Body (III) – Imagination And Self Talk For Sports Injury Rehabilitation will focus on goal setting in greater detail.
Adapted from a technical paper contributed by Poh Yu Khing, a sports and performance psychologist. Poh Yu Khing was formerly the Head of Sport Psychology at the Singapore Sports Council. An ex-national badminton player, he has also taken part in small endurance events such as the half-marathon and mini-triathlons. In his spare time outside of his day job, he enjoys consulting with athletes and performers as a freelance sports & performance psychologist. He was also the author of a regular “Golfing Mind” column in the local GOLF magazine.
- Mind and Body (II) – Mental Goal-Setting for Sports Injury Rehabilitation
- Mind And Body (III) – Imagination And Self Talk For Sports Injury Rehabilitation
- Chronic Low Back Pain – The Psychological Factors
- 1 Essential Element That Athletes Need To Stay Injury Free
- 3 Main Factors Affecting Chronic Pain
- Physiotherapy: Which Physiotherapist Should I See For Regular Injuries And Sports Injuries?
- What To Do In Case of a Sports Injury
- Sports Recovery Strategies To Improve Your Performance (Part 2- Fundamental Strategies)
- Chronic Pain Part 1- A Negative Belief System?
- The One Thing Cyclists Need for Better Performance
- Prehab vs Rehab: It’s Your Choice
- Chronic Pain: Altered Pain Processing Mechanisms And Central Sensitization
- Sports Recovery Strategies To Improve Your Performance – Part 1
- The Buckling Knee
- Sports Recovery Strategies To Improve Your Performance (Part 4- Advance Strategies)
- Doctor or Physio – Who Should You See?
- Managing Sports Related Head Injuries And Concussion On-Field
- What Does A Knee-Jerk Response Test Have To Do With Your Ankle Sprain?
- Sports Massage for Cyclists: What Are the Benefits & Should You Get One
- Cycling Recovery Strategies: All You Need to Know as a Cyclist