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Effect of mental state on injury risk?

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  • Effect of mental state on injury risk?

    I have noticed that since I've adopted and applied the psychosocial model of pain to my own training, I have much fewer "injuries" than when I followed a different popular program and was obsessed with perfect form. Is this a common phenomenon? Are there objective data to show that one's mental approach to training, ie accepting that the effect of form on injury risk is not direct or consistent, actually leads to fewer injuries?

    Thanks.

    Sunil

  • #2
    My layman's understanding is that if you have less fear/concern then you have a lower risk of pain in response to a given nociceptive stimulus.

    For example, previously if your back rounded noticeably during a squat and you happened to get some nociception you'd connect the two and think that you caused structural damage to your spine and that would scare and concern you. Pain is an alarm system, your beliefs were making it so that the alarm was easier to trigger.

    Now if the same thing happens you view yourself as in a very low risk situation and the nociception is less alarming (less pain).

    I don't have any data on how this actually plays out.

    Hopefully a moderator will step in if I'm too far off base.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by SVRao View Post
      I have noticed that since I've adopted and applied the psychosocial model of pain to my own training, I have much fewer "injuries" than when I followed a different popular program and was obsessed with perfect form. Is this a common phenomenon? Are there objective data to show that one's mental approach to training, ie accepting that the effect of form on injury risk is not direct or consistent, actually leads to fewer injuries?

      Thanks.

      Sunil
      Anecdotally, yes we hear such reports often. We have qualitative data on how someone views their pain experience and meaning responses (behaviors) influences current and future experiences/responses. This is specific to the context of various cohorts (low back pain, osteoarthritis, etc). I'm not aware of specific data on the topic of injuries in resistance focused athletes. The largest barrier is agreeing on definition for the word injury which influences capture. Notice I defaulted to the concept of pain but the word injury may or may not include this criteria based on the injury definition. There's also consideration for time loss in practice and competition, tissue trauma, etc. Injury, like pain, superficially appears easy to define. To add a layer here, see this article on how each person views an injury similarly but with obvious differences based on their athletic role: How elite athletes, coaches, and physiotherapists perceive a sports injury

      I often return to the idea, if a person thinks they are injured then they will likely respond accordingly (not always and not everyone). Similar to the idea of pain, the appropriate response is what we are looking for. Having a new understanding of such experiences, meaning, and appropriate responses often leads to what you are describing above.

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