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Exploring the psychological aspects of sport injury
Exploring the psychological aspects of sport injury

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1 Causes of sport injury

Sport injuries can be caused by a wide variety of factors. These factors can be grouped into four main areas: physical, environmental, socio-cultural and psychological (Wiese-Bjornstal and Shaffer, 1999) as illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1 Causes of sport injury (Wiese-Bjornstal and Shaffer, 1999)

Physical and environmental factors are perhaps more obviously associated with injury, but the links between socio-cultural and psychological factors and injury are less obvious. Socio-cultural factors relate to the culture and attitudes that are often adopted within sport that could encourage the development of a sport injury. Some examples of the attitudes that could increase the risk of injury include: the belief that pain tolerance demonstrates strength and toughness, an acceptance that pain and injury are part of sport (‘no pain, no gain’), and an unwillingness to seek medical treatment for fear of appearing weak (Wiese-Bjornstal and Shaffer, 1999).

Meeuwise et al. (2007) suggest that the risk factors for developing an injury can be split into intrinsic risk factors and extrinsic risk factors:

  • Intrinsic risk factors are those that are internal or personal to the individual and can include physical variables (such as age, strength, flexibility, and previous injury) and psychological variables (such as self-concept and personality) (Brewer and Redmond, 2017).
  • Extrinsic risk factors are those external to the individual and can include sport-related variables (such as type of sport, rules, opponent/team mate behaviour), equipment and weather conditions (Brewer and Redmond, 2017).

Next you’ll look at psychological factors in more detail.