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Coping with injury in powerlifting : stress-injury model perspective
A need to evaluate psychological antecedents to injury in strength-based sports is evident. Powerlifting especially has seen a rise in participation rates (International Paralympic Committee; Powerlifting Australia Ltd.; British Weight Lifting), also resulting in an increase in weightlifting-related injuries (Metzger et al., 2012). While much literature exists on mental stressors and coping mechanisms athletes encounter in the sport context, minimal research has attempted to understand how athletes involved in strength sports cope with stress and injury. The nature of strength sports overall differs from contact, speed-based, or even aesthetics-based sports. These essential differences are hypothesized to bring about specific stressors, thereby different coping styles in competitive powerlifting. The purpose of this thesis was to examine competition and life stressors, experiences related to injury, and coping mechanisms in competitive powerlifters. This study used a cross-sectional, narrative design rooted in Williams and Andersen’s (1998) stress-injury model as the primary theoretical lens. Participants were eight (n=8) male competitive powerlifters from various national backgrounds, aged 18-28 years with past physical injury in need of rehabilitation. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews, which included questions about athletes’ past injury(-ies), stressors experienced in powerlifting, and coping with stress and injury. Deductive content analysis revealed that powerlifters experienced stressors such as weight cutting, the “post-training blues” phenomenon, overthinking, and feelings of anxiety and worry about reaching their goals. Common daily hassles including school- or work-related events were reported as sources of stress in their personal lives. Lower back injury requiring physical therapy was the most common type of injury experienced. Avoidance coping styles were utilised in injury contexts compared with other stress contexts. Means of coping with injury included training around their injured muscle groups and seeking information about their injuries. Coping with stress results include planning and establishing a routine, and adopting an “it’s outside of my control” mindset. Overall, powerlifters appeared to be at risk to similar psychological predictors to injury incidence as other athlete groups are, although they experienced several stressors and engaged in coping mechanisms unique to powerlifting. Implications for clinicians and future research are detailed. ...
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