Sport Health

The psychological responses to sports injury

lesion deportiva psicologia

The sportive injury is one of the main negative situations to which exposes  an athlete was of the level that was or of the sport that practise. The fear to fall lesionado, the afrontamiento of the pain, the loss of autonomy, the uncertainty during the period lesionado, the rehabilitation, the descent in the sportive performance or the prevention of the injuries are some of the conditionings that it is necessary to take into account to help to the sporty to handle this uncomfortable situation.

The pain of the injury

The pain, like sensory and emotional experience unpleasant, is fundamental part of an injury and more if it fits when  cronifica. It is by this that the sportive psychology has to contribute tools and technical to face the pain and the stress generates trying diminish the subjective experience of the same as I complement to the properly physical or farmacological treatment, as the one who can find in pharmacy 4 stations to relieve the symptoms of tiredness or muscular pain.

This subjective experience of the pain goes to depend on three main components that will determine the threshold of the pain:

  • Sensory: quality neurosensitiva of the pain.
  • Cognitive-Evaluational: conscious assessment of the people on the meaning of the experience for the person in concrete.
  • Affective-Emotional: it is the most subjective part of the perception of the pain because of the fear, anxiety, frustration and stress between other emotional variables.

By this fact, from the psychology will work  fundamentally the cognitive component-evaluador, working on the irrational beliefs, anticipations and predisposition in front of the pain and during the same; and the subjectiveemotional to work the emotional management in front of the pain.

Integral model of the answer to the sportive injury

Inside the study of the boarding of the sportive injury from a psychological point of view, the theory that better collects better these components is the Integral Model of the Answer to the Sportive Injury of Wiese-Bjornstal, Smith, Shaffer and Morrey (1998). This model poses that the impact and the answer that has the sportsman in front of the injury will depend on the interaction of diverse personal factors, situations that act mediating the cognitive assessment that will determine the answer conductual and emotional so much to the pain as to the stress that generates the sportive injury.

Factors determinants in the perception of the injury

Personal factors

  • Injury: previous experiences and record, type of injury, cronicidad, length, severity, causes of the injury, precise diagnostic, etc.
  • Individual differences:
    • Psychological: perfectionism, corporal image, cognitive maturity, type of personality, emotional intelligence, resiliencia, etc.
    • Demographic: the gender, the age, etc.
    • Physics: resistance, disorders of personality, alimentary, genetic, etc.

Situational factors

  • Sportive: role in the team, sportive speciality, level of the competition, transcendence of the moment of the party, phase of the season.
  • Social: interpersonal relations with mates, relation with the trainer, familiar dynamics, technical body, ethical sportive, social expectation on the sport.
  • Environmental: sportive context, familiar and place of the rehabilitation and his accessibility.

The answers of the sport injuries

Through these factors the sportsman goes to create an assessment and cognitive answer that will form this personal identity and beliefs on the injury, the feeling of loss, skill of afrontamiento, social support, beliefs on the injury, autoeficacia perceived, expectations, sportive pressure for going back to play, perception of the pain, etc. Once produced this thought on his injury and the pain suffered will generate  some determinate answers conductuales and emotional:

  • Answer conductual: different adherencia to the rehabilitation, behaviours of risk, pretend the injury, greater or lower tolerance to the pain, use of the social support of correct way.
  • Emotional answer: fear or anxiety, optimism, low state of spirit (sadness or depression), relief, frustration, etc.

Psychological technicians in front of a sportive injury

With all this information, the sportive psychologist will contribute technical and tools to try shorten the terms of recovery of the injury or attain that the sportsman restart his activity in the best conditions no only physical but mental. These technicians are focused mainly in the phase of immobilisation and the back of mobilisation such as the recovery, readaptación and reentrenamiento (Palmi, 2002).

Some of the technicians that will use  along these phases, adapting them to each one of them, are: they are: skills of communication, control of activation, control attention (desfocalizar exclusively the pain), emotional intelligence, skills of afrontamiento (coping), progressive relaxation, visualisation and essay in imagination, intervention in crisis and state of spirit, inoculation of the stress, maintenance and fixation of aims, improvement of the process education-learning, car-positive speech, biofeedback, personal and professional orientation, psicoterapia, etc.



Palmi, J. (1997) psychological Components of the sportive injuries. In J. Cruz (ed.) Psychology of the Sport, pp. 215-244. Madrid: Synthesis.

Wiese-Bjornstal, D.M., Smith, A.m., Shaffer, H.M. & Morrey, M.To. (1998) An Integrated Model of Response to sport injury: psychological and sociological dynamics. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 10, pp. 46-69.


Iván Pico

Director y creador de Psicólogo Colegiado G-5480 entre otras cosas. Diplomado en Ciencias Empresariales y Máster en Orientación Profesional. Máster en Psicología del Trabajo y Organizaciones. Posgrado en Psicología del Deporte entre otras cosas. Visita la sección "Sobre mí" para saber más. ¿Quieres una consulta personalizada? ¡Escríbeme!

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