You’ve probably heard it said before, “Sports are 90% mental and 10% physical,” but is there any truth to this? Can stress actually affect your athletic performance? The answer is yes!
Not only does stress affect your mental game, but it also plays a significant role in your physical game. Stress comes with a long list of symptoms. Some of those include muscle tension, anxiety, fatigue, sleep disruption, impaired immunity, and the list goes on.
Muscle tension is one of the most common symptoms of stress, which has a huge impact on an athlete's performance. For athletes to be at the top of their game, they need to be agile, with loose, limber muscles. Tight muscles negatively affect flexibility, and mobility, leading to improper form. Muscles and joints work together, therefore, muscle tightness can cause joint and muscle injury. Sports require fast, explosive movements and tight muscles are far more susceptible to strains and tears. Extremely tight muscles don’t receive adequate blood flow or oxygen which can cause trigger points and delayed healing of injured muscles.
Fatigue is another symptom of stress that can lead to injury. Stress in and of itself can make you sleepy, but when you are experiencing sleep disruptions as well, you are more prone to injuries. Sports require quick thinking and reaction time. Fatigue can negatively affect your response and reaction time, causing injury in some situations. Lack of sleep can also affect your immune system and allow you to be more susceptible to illness, thus causing you to miss practices and games.
Anxiety is a common side effect of stress. When you feel anxious it’s common to struggle with decision making and focus. There is no time for a lack of focus or poor decision-making during the game. An impaired cognitive ability of this sort can put you at higher risk for injury.
Stress not only affects your day-to-day activities but also has a major impact on your athletic performance. It is crucial that you learn to manage stress as an athlete so you can avoid injury and stay at the top of your game.
Milan M. DiGiulio, M.D. offers comprehensive orthopedic care for you and your entire family, specializing in Sports Medicine and arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder and knee. Dr. DiGiulio performs over 200 arthroscopic shoulder and knee surgeries each year, using the most advanced surgical technology. Dr. DiGiulio is an advocate of non-invasive, non-surgical treatment options such as Physical Therapy and Orthobiologics.