Psychology and injury – an interesting link

An interesting study looked at what psychosocial factors might be related to faster recovery and return to sport following injury. A survey format was used to measure the following factors – positive attitude, outlook, stress and stress control, social support, goal setting, positive self-talk, and mental imagery-as well as related items about beliefs and recommendations for enhanced healing. Some 19% of the athletes participating in the study had exceptionally fast recoveries. These subjects had higher scores on all variables tested; while those in the slowest healing group had lower scores. The most significant results were found in the more action related factors of goal setting, positive self-talk, and the use of healing imagery (Ievleva and Orlick 1999).

Ievleva and Orlick (1999) compared slow and fast healers and found that the fast healers:

  • took personal responsibility for healing
  • had high desire and determination
  • had more social support
  • maintained a positive attitude
  • used creative visualization
  • were less fearful of re-injury upon return to full participation

Correct exercise prescription is vital. This gives the athlete personal responsibility for healing. You must understand why you are doing the exercises and not just how to do them.

The club setting is a great social support network. Keep coming to the sessions that you can participate in. We can try to adapt a session so you can still participate. Talk to the other athletes and coaches about your injury if you want to or help with the running of a club training session or organisation of other club related events.

Maintaining a positive attitude can be difficult. The more severe an injury the more difficult it is to be positive. That’s only natural. The three points above should help. If you are unable to participate in one triathlon discipline see it as an opportunity to improve in another one or two or work on other important aspects of injury prevention and management such as strength, balance, proprioception etc.

Visualization is a powerful tool. A good time to practise this mental skill is just before going to sleep. There are a variety of techniques you might use such as visualizing the injured tissues healing, visualizing a particular time when you felt great e.g. a previous training session or race, or visualizing yourself performing the way you want to once the injury has healed. This can help maintain desire, determination and confidence and help you be less fearful of re-injury when you do return to full participation.

I love watching this preview to the next ITU World Championship Series. Click here to have a look. Perhaps it might help you stay motivated if you have an injury or just help you push it a little harder in training when you have to.

This week is our threshold swim session. Relentless…but in a good way. Remember fins for the swim session as we will be using the in the drill set. The run session will be a something different this week. Blame Karl!

See you Sunday. Remember the clocks go forward Saturday night. Tim (LFTC Coach).