This is a common problem among athletes, especially those who have already been severely injured or had to get a surgery due to an injury. The trauma and pain associated with injuries are etched deeply in their minds. So, the fear of injury takes of hold of these athletes and may affect their performance adversely. They find themselves unable to fully immerse themselves in the flow of the game, constantly wary of facing a traumatic injury again. However, some psychological conditioning and therapy sessions can help these individuals overcome their fears.
Traumatophobia or fear of trauma leads to a belief in individuals that safety is not possible. There are different causes of this fear:
- In cases where the person in question has already had a severe injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the root of the cause.
- It may also root from other conditions. Obsession leads to people assuming that no condition is truly safe and they would unavoidably be injured.
- Sometimes the fear is a learned one. Someone may have instilled this fear in you through their recounting of their experience or brush with injury.
There are some symptoms of fear of injury that are prevalent in almost all the individuals crippled by it.
- Trembling when present in what they perceive to be an unsafe situation
- Elevated heart rates
- Feeling faint
- Dry mouth and sweaty hands
- Panic attack
These problems often lead to crippling social issues that can make a person remote and distant. They may actively keep away from certain situations. Athletes with fear of injury have often shown inclination to quit the game. Even if they want to actively participate in life, their fear holds them back.
Is It a Phobia?
There is a need to assess whether your fear of injury is merely a dislike for cuts and bruises or a full-fledged phobia.
- If it is a dislike for injuries, it is completely rational. Nobody likes getting hurt. The cuts and bruises associated with sports or physical activities are unavoidable. These can be dealt with by first aid or emergency medical attention.
- However, if you want to quit the sport or any other you are engaged in simply due to the fear of getting injured, it is an irrational fear or phobia. The fear paralyses the mind. Even if you do force yourself to play, you will not be able to take rational decisions (like running away from collision) and are more likely to get injured.
Figure Out The Triggers
There are some triggers that set off a chain reaction in your mind, which lets the fear of injury act up. Some of the following act as triggers which can unleash the fear of injury in you:
- A serious injury in the past
- A general tendency to feel anxious or fearful
- An easily excitable, ‘high-strung’ disposition
- Adrenal insufficiency
You need to figure out what triggers your fear and deal with it. This will help you manage the fear and eventually overcome it.
Here are some tips that can help you deal with your fear of injury:
- Be safe to begin with. Put on all the protective gear that you can manage without hindering your performance. Helmet, knee and elbow pads, crotch guard and mouth guards are some of the protective gears that you can use to keep yourself unharmed in the field.
- Do not overreach when you are training or playing. Do not force your body to do things that it cannot do reasonably well. It can lead to internal injury.
- Learn the game and its rules properly, encourage your teammates and fellow players to do so as well. The rules are there to keep you safe.
- If you do get injured, do not ponder on it. Accept and move on.
If these do not work with you and you feel your performance or daily routine is getting compromised due to your fear of getting injured, do seek the help of a professional. Therapists can help you come to terms with your fear, face it head on and overcome it. You may also speak to other people who had a similar fear of injury and conquered their phobia.