I will start by saying this has nothing to do with the Governator’s recent indiscretions (luckily). Have you ever seen the movie Pumping Iron? It is a docudrama which covers the lead up to the 1975 Mr Olympia contest, which Arnold Schwarzenegger wins for the sixth consecutive time. Now whilst there are not many applications to the world of sports physiotherapy, unless of course you work closely with bodybuilders, there are a few gems in the film. Of these gems there are none more interesting than Arnold’s discussion of the incredible mental strength required to compete at such an elite level for such a length of time. This is discussed in the first 2 minutes of the video below.
So what does this have to do with sports physiotherapy or physical therapy? Bear with me for one moment…
The Role of the Mental Game
More and more are sports medicine professionals, not only sports physiotherapists and physical therapists, becoming aware of the importance of the so-called “mind body connection”. Professional teams and elite athletes the world over are working closely with highly trained sports psychologists in order to deliver world class performances consistently. They design interventions and develop routines of mental techniques that allow the athlete to get into and stay ‘in the zone’. This is an obvious acknowledgement for the important role of mental functioning and psychology in athletic performance.
Why Should We Care?
“To treat a knee and ignore the brain and emotions that direct the choreography of that knee is not consistent with total care of the patient.” – G. Faris
Now, I am not a psychologist and will never claim that I am even close to one. However, I am acutely aware of the impact of an athlete’s mental state on their physical function and in particular their recovery from injury. Unfortunately, in many cases the athlete will not have direct access to a psychologist, and thus, you may be the next best thing. In this case, it is important to be armed with some skills around improving the athlete’s psychological state, and I have some tips on where you can get them!
Tips On Sports Psychology
As I have made abundantly clear, I am not the expert here. However, someone who is an expert in the field of sports psychology is Dr Patrick Cohn, who hosts a good little podcast about sports psychology. There are quite a few episodes of the podcast with real relevance and good tips for sports physiotherapists and physical therapists dealing with injured athletes. Check out the podcast here, and be sure to check out the episodes entitled: Overcoming A Fear Of Injury in Contact Sports, Conquer the Fear Of Re-injury, Coping with Pain and Injury with Mental Imagery. The podcast discusses concepts like goal-setting, mental training and imagery to improve the athletes psychological function, which can in turn be utilised to improve their rehabilitation and then ultimately their athletic performance.
One For The Sceptics
I know that there are many people who do not entertain the concept of the “mind body connection”. There are those that will argue that it is alterative hippy rubbish, I know because people have said that to me. However, for those of you who are still sceptical about the strength of the mind to influence physical function check out the fantastic video below, and I have to thank Lorimer Moseley for bringing it to my attention on the Body in Mind blog.
What Are Your Thoughts and Experiences?
I would love to hear what your thoughts and experiences are in dealing with the mental or psychological aspects of injury; good, bad or otherwise. be sure to let me know in the comments or catch me on Facebook or Twitter