Practice What You Preach!

🧠 In the last several years, our society has been trying to increase the importance of focusing on good mental health, which is great! But then this week happens and you wonder what caused a shift in that. Simone Biles has received both sides of the spectrum in terms of support for prioritizing her self-care and mental health to being called incredibly selfish and a disgrace to our country at the Summer Olympics.

💜 As a physical therapist and coach, I spend a majority of my work time talking to people about self-care and how to help themselves get better. That may be recovering from a physical pain issue, improving their athletic performance or both.

💜 One of the messages I repeat over and over to athletes is to listen to their bodies and to respect their bodies. I preach about the importance of recovery and rest days. I stress to athletes that continuing to push and push and push can cause detrimental effects, both physically AND mentally.

💜 I have had endurance athletes come to see me for injuries because their coach didn’t listen to them when they said something was hurting and they felt like they needed a day or two off or to modify their training. Their coach told them to just keep training and “see how it feels.” Then they end up in my office when they can’t continue running, biking, or swimming because of the pain. Their question is always similar to this: “why couldn’t they just listen to me when I tell them I’m hurt and need a couple of days off?”

💜 That’s what I hear in the amateur/recreational athlete world when someone thinks a race is more important than the person. Imagine how much greater that pressure is for elite athletes. (Search Kerri Strug or Elena Muhkina!) We can’t expect “regular” athletes to take care of themselves if this double standard continues the way #SimoneBiles has been treated.

💜 We must prioritize our physical AND mental health! We need to be proactive with healthy behaviors, physically and mentally. We need to seek care from professionals when we need it. We need to advocate for our own well-being. We need to support others for doing the same. Until you’ve walked in someone else’s shoes through everything they’ve experienced, you can’t truly understand their struggles and should not be criticizing their choices.

💜 Be kind to others and take care of yourself!

Author

Dr. Jeanne Williams, PT, DPT, OCS

We help endurance athletes (from beginners to pros) train and cross the finish line faster and injury-free!

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