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What are the psychological impacts of injuries on athletes?

Many athletes view injuries as inevitable. However, they can cause many emotional and psychological impacts as well as physical no matter how detrimental the injury is. Whether it be a torn ACL or a sprained ankle.

Injuries affect many people emotionally, yet athletes are affected especially as they are used to performing at such a high level. Their injury may cause them to have to start from the basics that where previously second nature to them- so frustration is common.

Injuries often highlight mental health issues. Whilst an athlete is injured, it may be possible for the athlete to develop and experience depression which is caused mainly as the athlete feels they do not have a purpose and also may suffer from identity loss as they cannot train and perform at the same elite level that they once did. Other mental health issues can also develop. For example, it is common for athletes to develop eating disorders as athletes reduce their calorie intake as they are not exercising as much as they would be if training. This control and restriction of calories can lead to eating disorders which can permanently damage an athlete and can continue after the athlete has recovered from the injury.

There is also fear that the athlete will not recover to be able to compete and train in sport at the same level they did previous to their injury. Which may cause anxiety.

An example of an elite sport performer that suffered mentally with injuries is Andy Murray. He had a long term hip problem. After the Melbourne cup, in a press conference, he had a mental breakdown and discussed plans of retiring from sport after struggling physically and mentally from his hip injury. In this video we see Andy Murray very emotional and even leaves the press conference. This is a prime example to show how injuries can affect an athlete psychologically.

Therefore, it is important that athletes are given treatment whilst recovering from an injury, to ensure the athlete can cope with the physical and also the mental impact of the injury. This is key to reduce the risk of an athlete developing mental health issues.

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