The athletic world was thrown into upheaval when Simone Biles withdrew from her spot on the USA Women’s gymnastics team. While some reported it was due to an ankle injury Biles herself explained that it was a mental focus issue. This only made matters worse: Biles was heckled on television shows and social media, so much so that other athletes began to defend her decision. Some began to contrast Olympic Gold Medalist Kerri Strug‘s 1996 performance wherein she severely injured her ankle to Bile’s condition and decision to avoid a potential injury. This soon brought about a public statement by Strug that actually supported Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw. In addition, the most decorated American female gymnast in Olympics history Shannon Miller spoke on CNBC that Simone had made the right decision. Why such different reactions from everyone?
Many elite athletes have come forward with the painful acknowledgement that they were trained to win at all costs, even if it meant competing while injured. This has led to an entire inspection of how our athletes are trained even at the high-school level. Many schools have found that students as young as 14 have reported:
- Peer pressure to train and compete while injured
- Coaching pressure and intimidation to compete while injured
- Fear of reporting injuries to supervisory staff, trainers, or coaches
Sadly this comes as no surprise to anyone who has participated in competitive sports. In Orange County the pressure may be even more significant. Most families in Orange County are aiming for lucrative scholarships and are pushed in that direction by their parents. How can physical therapy help?
Athletic Mindset and Mental Focus
Simone Biles has won a total of 32 Olympic and world medals, but even with such experience and mastery of her sport she lost her mental edge. “I just felt like it would be a little bit better to take a back seat, work on my mindfulness,” stated Biles. “I took a step back because I didn’t want to do something silly out there and get injured.” Biles referenced her experiencing the “twisties“; a term used amongst gymnasts when they lose their ability to tell up from down during complicated maneuvers. Would regular physical therapy have prepared her to perform better? Many believe so because of physical therapy’s ability to maintain confidence in an athlete’s sport and how their body will respond. Fear of injury leads athletes into distraction, which itself can cause injury. Physical therapy can reduce fear of injury due to an understanding of how the body moves during sports.
What Should You Do If You Are Injured?
Injuries during sports happen but it does not have to mean the end of a sporting career. First and foremost you must visit your primary care physician. Some sports injuries are serious and need medical care. Skilled physical therapists can work under the referral of your medical doctor to help you heal and get back onto the court. Moreover, the physical therapists and chiropractors at Natural Health Sports Therapy can help you learn how to exercise safely with better results for long term health.