Upwards of 7 million sports-related injuries occur each year in the United States. That said, chances are high that most of us have sustained a sports-related injury in our lifetime and have likely experienced anxiety upon reintroduction to activity.
At age 20, I injured my ankle playing soccer and needed extensive surgery. Weeks later, I completed physical therapy and was cleared to run again. I was terrified. On my first run, I more or less limp-ran to avoid putting much weight on my ankle. I worried I would never be able to run again without fear. Sound familiar?
Fear of returning to sport is incredibly common and caused by a mental block - a psychological response to the fear of re-injury. Recovery is just as much mental as it is physical. Research tells us that injured athletes recover quicker if they have a more positive outlook than negative. “This is tough, but I’ll bounce back” vs. “my sports career is over.” Research also tells us that there are a number of psychologically informed practices to help athletes manage and alleviate that same fear. Athletic trainers, coaches and parents can work alongside their athletes using these practices to help them stay positive and return to play sooner. Some of these practices include:
- Goal setting
- Educating and building trust in the rehabilitation process
- Slow reintroduction to sport
- Reflecting on original goals and progress made
Risk management platforms like InJureFree allow coaches and athletes to refer back to the data through injury reporting, return-to-play clearance, secure lines of connection between providers, and more to help instill trust and confidence in athletes as they reintegrate into the game. Think about it like this - Coaches and athletes can look back on the data together and build trust in their body’s ability to recover and return to play safely and effectively.
Click here to learn more about overcoming fear after an injury and more!