A letter to my younger athlete self: using hindsight to understand the experiences of chronic pain in athletes

Hine, J. (2018) A letter to my younger athlete self: using hindsight to understand the experiences of chronic pain in athletes. Undergraduate theses, University of Chichester.

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While the sport psychology literature has provided extensive explanations for the reasons behind and responses to acute injury; the experiences of chronic injury have been broadly overlooked. Chronic pain is defined as any injury that causes progressive, continuous or intermittent pain that may be present for a prolonged period of time. Therefore for an athlete experiencing chronic pain, they may be required to play or train through pain. This study aims to further explore chronic pain in athletes, using hindsight to reflect upon their experiences. A total of 21 participants were recruited with a range of athletic abilities (7 amateur, 6 regional, 4 national, and 4 international). All participants had experienced chronic pain for at least five years and had reduced or limited participation after injury. On agreement, participants were required to write an “older, wiser, self” letter back to their younger selves and once returned to the researcher, the data was analysed using thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Results highlight five emerging themes:
1. Instruction
2. Reassurance
3. Barrier to belonging
4. Empathy
5. Future and coming back stronger
These results support existing research that emphasises the difficulties experienced (Lopez-Martinez, Esteve-Zarazaga & Ramirez-Maestre, 2008) and how participants often required better support (Breivik, Collett, Ventafridda, Cohen & Gallacher, 2006). However, findings also extend the literature in three substantial ways; 1) it emphasises the difficulty in obtaining social support, 2) it provides evidence that there was a lack of compassion received at the time of injury and 3) that the predominant difficulty when experiencing chronic pain is uncertainty, but positive future potential brings motivation. Further, these results provide valuable suggestions for the applied practitioner supporting athletes in chronic pain in order to offer sufficient support and this technique could be used in the future to investigate other personal, sensitive experiences such a mental health issues.

Publication Type: Theses (Undergraduate)
Additional Information: BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV557 Sports
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Sport > Area > Exercise Physiology
Student Research > Undergraduate
Depositing User: Ann Jones
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2019 16:38
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2019 16:38
URI: https://eprints.chi.ac.uk/id/eprint/4539

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