How to recover mentally from a sports injury

We know how to take care of your nutrition to recover from injury as quickly as possible, we also talked about how to keep fit in this difficult process and about how run again after recovering. But what about the mental aspect?

It’s a sports injury one of the most severe blows any athlete can face in our daily life. Not to mention the most serious ones that can keep us out of the game for months or even a whole season.

Much is said about the consequences on physical performance when we injure ourselves, but very little is said about mental retardation which includes: sadness, anger, irritability, feelings of frustration, pain or fear of re-injury are some of the emotions we can experience.

Mental recovery can be as difficult or even more demanding than physical recovery, making it even more difficult for an athlete to return to performing at their highest level. of sports, Mental toughness is just as important as physical fitness for success.

Photo: Instagram // Pello Osoro

In triathlon we have seen cases like this of Javi Gomez Noya, who had to pull out of the Rio Olympics after suffering a broken elbow during cycling training shortly before the event; on Jan Frodenowho missed the Kona World Cup due to a stress fracture or the most recent of Lucy Charles, who also couldn’t be at St. George’s due to a stress fracture. But they’ve all had more than misfortune: they’ve been able to come back and win again.

However, as Dan Pillow, a clinical/sports psychologist at Henry Ford Health notes, “it’s not uncommon for injuries to fuel feelings of isolation, frustration, anxiety, and even depression.” Absence from competition “may affect emotional well-being, social well-being and their self-esteem or identity”.

Therefore we must work actively with a positive, realistic and optimistic outlook. In this article, we look at four key tips for mental recovery from a sports injury.

Set clear and realistic goals

Athletes are authentic training data buffs. We are natural people who set goals based on them, we can’t help it. This is our way of measuring our progress.

However, after an injury we should be able to come in ready: forget the previous goals, the circumstances are different now. Our goals must be adapted and above all be clear and realistic with the new scenario.

If you haven’t run in two months, thinking about hitting your MMP in the next few weeks isn’t the smartest thing to do. Adopt measurable, achievable and relevant goals.

visualization helps

Science has shown it when we visualize an action and perform it, we stimulate the same regions in our brain. From NBA star Stephen Curry to Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, they have routinely used visualization to improve their performance.

If you’re recovering from a broken leg, visualize yourself returning to your most demanding workouts, running at full speed with two healthy, strong legs.


One of those motivational phrases that we are sometimes too lazy to hear is that “luck is an attitude”. It may sound corny, but there is a great deal of reality behind them.

When we face big challenges in life, our minds can become clouded with negative thoughts.. This is because the mechanism of the brain is programmed to focus on immediate threats or pessimism instead of being optimistic.

Repeating various positive affirmations to yourself can be a very effective strategy.

Lucy Charles Gym
Photo: Lucy Charles // YouTube

focus on the present

One of the big challenges we face when we are hurt is managing our emotions. One of them is that he longs to compete again and perform like we used to. However, injuries require time and patience to make a good recovery.

This can generate what we know as anticipatory anxietyissue fruit of the state of uncertainty about the future: anxiety, fear, irritability, sadness or anger. All of them are caused by our “future”.

When should I run again? When will I get my strokes back? Will I go back to my gym? When will I be able to compete? Forgetting all that future that plagues us and focusing on the present is essential to the mental recovery from a sports injury.

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