Returning to field after sports injury

Athletes are generally very active and courageous but when they get injured there is intense pressure from within to return to the sports field as early as possible. However, it is necessary for athletes to get fully rehabilitated and fit to successfully enter the sports arena again.

Athletes display a positive attitude while participating in a sport or game. However, when they get injured they are forced to sit out because of the injury and pain that follows. In such circumstances, they should be focused and driven to return to play as quickly as possible. They should rest, rehabilitate and get fit to participate wholeheartedly upon their return.

Injuries are an unavoidable bye-product of being an athlete and the transition from “active athlete” to “injured athlete” and back to “active athlete” is not easy and involves lot of patience, practice, rehabilitation and exercise to get fit.

Injured athletes struggle with fear, frustration, anger and sometimes depression during their absence from sport which may even hinder rehabilitation program effectively. Moreover, the return to sport itself yields a new set of adversities as athletes need to navigate through personal fears and a desire to return to their pre-injury state along with team, family and coaching-related issues.

It is very necessary for athletes to get social support from relatives, family, well-wishers and the society for their overall well-being, attitude and effort toward returning. Athletes sometimes feel neglected during their absence from the sport. As a result, they may distance themselves further from those who could actually provide the support needed to improve their mood and determination to continue with the sport.

Social support comes in various forms, ranging from emotional support to task challenge support. Some injured athletes need a caring person just to listen to their fears while others may prefer a challenging push to work harder during rehabilitation.

Although healthcare providers are busy, it is essential that someone takes out time to help these injured athletes through the injury and return to play experience. The process is not easy and it does not end the moment an athlete is cleared to return. In fact, there can be a time when it gets even harder. When Athletes return to the sports fields, coaches and teammates expect them to be the same as they were prior to the injury. Although a full return may be possible in time, it will not happen immediately and athletes, parents, teammates, and coaches need to understand this.

Injuries are unavoidable but they do not have to be completely devastating to one’s life and well-being if handled effectively. It is clear that injured athletes experience adversity because of the injury itself and because of the overall change to their lives and daily routines. The physical healing is sometimes easier than the mental return to play because the bone may heal and the tear may be fixed, but the mind does not change as readily.

Therefore, it is important for all involved to understand that mending an injured athlete requires attention to both the body and the mind. One can accomplish this with better awareness, education, and effort of doctors, coaches, parents and athletes alike.