An injury can be devastating to an athlete on a number of different levels. There is the obvious physical pain and discomfort that comes from an injury, but the competitive drive that fuels athletes can also be significantly affected by an injury. Oftentimes for athletes, injuries have just as much of a mental impact as they do physical.
At OrthoRehab Specialists, we can help you overcome your physical limitations after an injury, but we’re also capable of helping you work through the mental and emotional baggage that can sometimes accompany an injury. In today’s blog, we explain how a physical therapist can help athletes overcome the mental side of injuries.
The Emotional Fallout After An Athletic Injury
Sports mean different things to different people, so while all of the following emotional aspects following an injury may pertain to you, odds are you can relate to some of them. Here’s a look at some ways a sports injury can affect your mental health.
- Sports As A Source Of Joy – For many athletes, sports is one of the biggest sources of joy in their life. They love competing, they love the camaraderie with their teammates, and they love working together towards a singular goal. All of that can be taken away from them in an instant if they suffer an injury, and that can really take a toll on their mental health. A PT can help focus your energy on your recovery instead of letting you dwell on everything you’re missing. We can also help talk you through your feelings and find positive ways to talk about any frustrations you have about being away from your sport.
- Letting Teammates Down – Another way that injuries can wear on your mental health is when athletes feel like they are letting their team down because they cannot play through their injuries. If you lose games you feel like you shouldn’t or a parent says “We really could have used you out there today,” it can inadvertently feel like you’re letting everyone down. A physical therapist can help speed up your recovery so that you can know in your heart that you’re doing everything you can to get back on the field to help your teammates. If you’re doing everything you can, there’s no reason to feel like you’re letting your team down, but we can still talk you through these emotions if they are weighing on you.
- Fear Over Skill Loss – You may also experience some doubt as to whether or not you’ll be able to return to sport at the same skill level that you were at prior to your injury. These feelings are normal, but the good news is that with the help of physical therapy and other interventions, most athletes can come back as strong if not stronger than they were prior to their injury. Talking to your physical therapist about your return to sport goals will help them develop a therapy routine that ensures you make the fullest recovery possible and can get back to playing at the level you expect.
- Fear Of Reinjury – A final mental health obstacle that many injured athletes face is the fear of suffering the same injury again down the road. Even if they don’t suffer another injury, they may find that they are more cautious or don’t have as much confidence in their ankle or knee as they did in the past, and that can negatively affect their play. Again, your physical therapist is your best resource for overcoming these mental hurdles. Not only can we develop a rehab plan that slowly builds up your tolerance and conditioning so that aggravation risk is mitigated, but we can explain why what we’re doing will lower your risk of injury and help you remain confident in your body.
If you’re injured and interested in returning to sport, make sure that you don’t just focus on the physical aspect of your injury. Athletic injuries can also bring a significant mental burden, and if that goes unaddressed, your physical health can suffer. Reach out to a physical therapist to make sure your physical, mental and emotional health are all cared for as you work to return to sport after an injury. For more information, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today.