Playing any sort of sport is not only fun, but also helps in keeping body fit and fine. Many people are fascinated with sports and try to convert their passion into their career. To become a sports person, it is important that the training should be commenced from an early age.
Most of the athletes who compete in Olympics and other national and international competitions, begin practice from an early age say around the age of four. At that time, their body is super flexible and can be easily trained. Sports such as badminton, tennis, swimming etc. need a lot of commitment and practice since childhood. For female athletes, its even more important that they begin practicing from early age because once they reach adolescence, their body becomes less flexible and it takes time to build on endurance.
However, there are certain issues which women who play sports have to face. Physical injuries and society pressure are one of those issues commonly faced by female players.
Physical injuries are inevitable when one plays sports. Both the genders have to face these injuries and emerge victorious over them in order to continue their sports career. However, studies have shown that female athletes are more prone to injuries than their male counterpart. Differences in their anatomical structures, training and physiology make women more vulnerable to injuries than men. Sometimes, these injuries can be fatal and some injuries can be treated with the help of physical therapy. Let us see types of injuries that is common in female athletes:
- ACL: Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury is a tear in knee ligament that connects upper leg bone i.e. thigh bone to lower leg bone. This type of injury generally occurs in sports such as skiing, volleyball, football, basketball etc. wherein the player has to make rapid movements, change directions and keep on accelerating (increase or decrease) speed of running. The injury is caused when there is sudden twist or bend in action that involves knee joint. It can also happen accidentally when a person gets hit in the knee while the leg is straight or slightly bent. Treatment for the injury comprises of first aid and physical therapy. If the ligament is severely damaged, it can be treated with surgery.
- Overuse injuries: As the name suggests, this injury occurs when there is extensive and high intensity training and resting period or recovery period is low. This causes imbalance and muscles suffer wear and tear. There is hardly any time for them to heal. Children and adolescents are more prone to overuse injuries as they require more resting period as compared to adults for healing of muscles. Also, repetitive or continuous stress on growth cartilage causes damage to joint ligaments. Faulty equipment, improper techniques also contribute in causing overuse injuries. Usually, treatment comprises of reducing intensity and time interval of training and getting adequate rest. If the problem persists, it is better to consult with doctor and take appropriate treatment.
- Female athlete triad: Female athlete triad is more of a psychological ailment rather than physical ailment. It occurs when female athletes start comparing themselves with other rival female competitors and build a negative self image. In order to look better and achieve better body than other female athletes, players suffering from female athlete triad ailments starve themselves to obtain thinner figure. Also, some sports activities like gymnastics involve uniform that is quite revealing. This can lead female athlete to make unhealthy body comparisons. Components or factors of female athlete triad include low bone mineral ( calcium and phosphorus) density, eating disorder and menstrual dysfunction. Female athlete triad is a common psychological disorder in female athletes and symptoms can be reduced if the player develops a very healthy, positive body image.
It is important that all female athletes pay attention to their health and nutrition. Diet plays an indispensable part to remain fit and healthy. Every female athlete must take that the diet provides sufficient protein and calcium to body.
1) Proteins are important for the muscles to repair or heal while calcium plays an important role in maintaining health of bones.
2) Females generally face an issue of osteoporosis when they reach late forties. To overcome this problem, consume foods rich in calcium like milk, yogurt, cheese, green leafy vegetables, seafood, legumes etc. For better absorption of calcium, ensure you get daily dose of vitamin D. Without vitamin D, calcium cannot be absorbed.
3) Another important mineral not be ignored is iron. Women loose lot of iron from their body through menstrual cycle. Iron is used to make haemoglobin ( iron plus protein) which supplies oxygen to each and every cell in the body. Good sources of iron include green leafy vegetables, liver, etc. Vitamin C along with iron rich foods ensures complete iron absorption.
To conclude, women who play sports on a regular basis have to pay attention to not only their nutritional requirement but also must protect themselves from injuries by wearing protective gear as the saying foes prevention is better than cure. If injuries happen, do not delay your appointment with doctor.
This article has been written by Ms Renuka Agarwal.
Views given here are of the author’s own.