Mind and Body Connected: Athletes and Mental Health
LOS ANGELES–(COMMERCIAL THREAD) – Achieving peak performance in competitive athletics requires a complex but delicate interplay of skill, conditioning, training, precision, courage and passion. Sometimes external and internal factors such as self-doubt, pressure, anxiety, and stress can interfere with an athlete’s performance or desire to play.
The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, a series of events showcasing epic competitive prowess, provided an opportunity for athletes to come together on the world stage to celebrate triumphs and successes against a backdrop of challenges. social, epidemiological and medical for all of us. However, the games also shed light on the challenges athletes faced prior to this pandemic. Elite athletes such as Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, Michael Phelps and Kevin Love shared their personal experiences and struggles with mental health issues, and their stories highlight the importance of caring for the athlete as a whole. because mind and body do not exist in silos. Realizing this, the sports medicine specialists at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Children’s Orthopedic Center praise these athletes and others for their self-awareness.
“The emotional and mental aspect of athletes’ lives, whether they are competing at an elite level or for a T-ball summer recreation league, is crucial and cannot be overlooked,” notes Bianca Edison, MD, MS. “For a very long time, athletes have been conditioned to overcome physical pain, exhaustion and the pressure of ‘whatever it takes’ because they have been raised in an arena that celebrates victory more than well-being. But winning at all costs overshadows common sense, takes extreme risks and robs athletes of the very joy of their sport. ”She adds:“ We cannot afford to forget to take care of all of our athletes, those who bear the burden of social healing from a psychological trauma experienced in these very difficult times. ”
Athletes, regardless of their age or skill level, are often under pressure from coaches, parents and teammates. In the past, many in the sports world ignored mental and emotional health because it wasn’t tangible like a sprained ankle or a broken arm. Now there is greater awareness of these issues and better mental health resources are available.
Knowing that a team approach to supporting the athlete is essential for optimal care and performance, sports medicine specialists at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles work with local sports psychologists to help promote the maximum personal care and well-being of athletes.
“At CHLA, we focus on treating the athlete as a whole — the physical and the mental,” says Ryan Kelln, DO, FAAP. “Sport should be fun. We want to see athletes come out and give it their all, but we also want to see athletes happy, feeling great and excited about what they’re doing. If an athlete suffers a physical injury or is distracted or is not in the correct free space to play, he is putting his body in danger.
“When you watch Simone Biles, she sets the bar higher and higher with the difficulty level of her routines and the movements she performs,” Kelln observes. “While it’s exciting to watch as a fan, we also have to realize the risk she takes to put her body to the test. If she’s not in a good space all around physically and mentally, she s ‘really puts you at an even greater risk of injury.
Additionally, Edison notes, an athlete who is not in the right frame of mind is more likely to withdraw from the sport altogether.
“We are facing a crisis of young athlete burnout,” said Edison. “The Aspen Institute found that the average child today spends less than three years playing sports and has a high risk of quitting before the age of 11, mainly because the athlete no longer considers the sport as fun. She also adds, “When an athlete begins to place a collective social responsibility for performance and perfection ahead of their responsibility to themselves, both physically and mentally, that athlete achieves a zero-sum game of success. We can’t put so much emphasis on results as opposed to the well-being of an athlete. Athletes need to recognize that supporting their own mental health can be as much of a reason to withdraw and focus on recovery as physical exhaustion, muscle strain or injury – and athletes like Biles have incorporated that into the conversation. international. While an athlete may be physically ready to compete, psychologically he cannot.
“Looking out for your best interests as a human being and saying ‘hey, I don’t feel good today’ or ‘this is no fun for me’ is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strong self-awareness, ”says Kelln. “Remember, athletes are not robots. When we can support them as a whole – their physical and mental health – it will give them longevity and it will allow them to be in a good space to compete. ”