Recovering Mentally After a Sports Injury

If you’re playing a sport, whether it’s contact or repetitive, the odds are you’re going to get injured at some point. Even professional athletes end up with damage from their games. 


Although it’s a common problem, it can be difficult to deal with when it happens to you. Not only are you trying to recover from the injury and handle the pain, but you have a lot of mental damage, too.


In the pro leagues, there are many stories of people who have used their determination to overcome serious injuries. These successes don’t come easy, though. There’s a lot of hard work and tears they go through to get to the other side.


When you’re injured, whether you’re an amateur, student, or professional, the work is the same. With perseverance and resilience, as well as these tips, you, too, can be a sports injury success story.


1. Get to Know Your Personal Injury


As a society, we have a tendency to listen to what the doctors tell us but not ask questions. However, the more you know about your injury, the better you’ll be able to steer the recovery process.


Find out what caused the injury. It wasn’t the collision or contact—that was part of it, but the damage came from something inside your body. 


Once you know the cause, such as your meniscus tearing due to a twisted knee, you’ll be able to learn how to treat it. You’ll also know what caused the injury, so you can prevent repeating those actions and making it worse.


Ask the doctor what your diagnosis is and what treatment options you have. Some doctors will stick with medications and a surgical path. Others offer natural healing suggestions, like physical therapy and supplements. 


Keep searching for a doctor that you feel comfortable with until you find one. If you have a personal injury lawsuit, your lawyer should be able to point you in the right direction.


2. Focus on Goals


Your injury likely threw you off your game, quite literally. Your schedule isn’t the same, your routine is messed up, and you’re feeling frustrated. This is completely normal.


What you need to avoid doing is letting your pain keep you from focusing on your goals. As an athlete, you know how to keep your eye on the prize and set targets. Use those strategies to push yourself mentally and physically.


Set a specific goal that you want to be able to achieve, and give yourself a time frame to reach it. Come up with simple methods to monitor your progress along the way. 


Make sure it’s attainable; otherwise, you could end up feeling worse instead of better.


3. Watch for Signs of Depression


No matter how hard you work on setting goals and healing, it’s possible to feel depressed sometimes. 


Post-injury depression occurs in more than half of athletes after an injury. Watching for the signs can help you avoid letting the occasional blues turn into clinical depression.


Depressive mood disorders like depression are problems that don’t discriminate due to age, gender, or sport. If you’ve been injured and can’t go back to your normal activities for a while, you’re at risk of post-injury depression.

How to Know if You’re Dealing With Depression


It’s okay to admit that you need help. Read through these warning signs, and, if they sound familiar, reach out to someone you trust so you’re not alone fighting your mental battle.


  • You feel like you’re a failure, or you let your teammates down.
  • You’re angry at yourself, the person who injured you, or in general.
  • You are obsessively determined to return to your pre-injury self, even if it hurts you more.
  • You focus on all the nit-picky negative things that are happening to you.
  • You’re withdrawing from people and activities you enjoy.
  • You have a lot of mood swings.
  • You’re afraid to play again.


Are you dealing with any of those characteristics in your day-to-day activities? Have you stopped putting effort into the little things, like getting dressed or going to school?


It’s hard for most of us to finally admit that we need help, but it’s even harder to go through each day feeling miserable and depressed. Reach out to your parents, coach, counselor, or anyone you trust. You’re not alone.



Anyone can end up on the sidelines because of a sports injury. It happens to the best professional athletes. The major difference between them and you is that they have a trained support system to guide them back to health.


But it’s not an easy path, even with your own staff of physicians and therapists. The work has to be done by the injured person through determination and motivation.


Remember, it’s just as hard to wallow in depression as it is to focus on your goals. These tips will help you as you choose the path that will bring you back to your best self.

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