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International Olympic Committee asks Halmstad University for help

Researchers from Halmstad University have in several studies concluded that stress increases the risk of injury for professional athletes. In connection with this research, the Halmstad researchers are giving concrete advice on how to prevent the occurrence of stress related injuries. The International Olympic Committee, IOC, is now using the result in its latest venture for Olympic athletes.

– Stress increases the risk of sports injuries. Through repeated surveys, we’ve managed to show the connection between stress and the risk of injury, and we’ve also suggested strategies on how to prevent this, says Urban Johnson, Professor of Psychology and Sport at Halmstad University.

Together with doctoral students Andreas Ivarsson and Ulrika Tranæus, Urban Johnson studied how athletes are affected by worry and stress. High reported levels of stress has been shown to be connected to an increased injury frequency. Stress, connected to for example negative life events, leads to reduced awareness and increased muscle tension which in turn increases the risk of injury.

High reported levels of stress has been shown to be connected to an increased injury frequency (the players in the photo are not connected with the research studies). Photo: Svensk Innebandy

Professional athletes took part in studies

A professional football player that took part in one of the research studies, comments his stressful life before the injury:

”It was a very chaotic period in my life, new things to do the whole time and stress all around. So much training and so many obligations and hardly any time to spend with family and friends outside the team. It made me feel unwell. I think this was the biggest reason for my injury.”

However, research shows that the risk of injury can be reduced through an athlete’s medical team and coach helping the athlete to handle a stressful existence, for example through mindfulness and other psychological training.

Helping Olympic athletes

The International Olympic Committee, IOC, recently launched an online course for Olympic athletes, which among other things focuses on injury prevention. Urband Johnson and his research team has been selected for the part of the course that concerns injury preventing measures through psychological training programmes. They’re the only sport psychologists lecturing on the course, the other parts concern among other things how to train and eat to prevent injuries.

– It is of course a great honour to be selected to help the best athletes in the world. We know how much efficient stress management can help athletes and we’re pleased that the results are being noticed and used, says Urband Johnsson.


Urban Johnson, Ulrika Tranæus and Andreas Ivarsson. Photo: Urban Johnson.

Updated 2018-01-16