• Caroline Sproule

The female experience: Greater dangers posed for women in sports

Gymnast Melanie Coleman died two days after an accident that occurred during a routine practice on uneven bars. She suffered from a fatal spinal cord injury, according to source. Although this tragic event labeled a freak accident, women tend to suffer from a higher risk of head, neck and spinal cord injuries.

Female athletes achieve equivalent or better accolades that male athletes do, and are just as strong as men in their respective sports. However, women tend to suffer from a higher risk of getting seriously injured from sports due to their anatomy and social standards.

However, including both genders, it can be acceptable to lose a few pounds if there is self-motivation behind it. When coaches force their athletes to lose weight for their sport it can decrease energy and muscle mass, which can go against the intended purpose and overall lower performance. In extreme cases, it can cause self-esteem issues which can have deadly outcomes such as eating disorders.

“No athlete should ever be forced to lose weight, when someone is forced to lose weight, it can not only be physically damaging such as losing muscle mass, but mentally too, the athlete could develop eating disorders trying to please their coaches, and overall won't increase their performance”Anatomy teacher Tammy Sensibaugh said.

Many women are faced with social standards of what they need to do to be successful in a sport, such as a coach forcing them to lose weight. For example, Mary Cain, a track athlete atthe University of Portland, had a coach who forced her to get thinner and thinner, ignoring her acts of self-harm when she was at a Nike Oregon Project, which is an elite training group that promotes American long-distance running according to people.com.

“Women have less muscle mass, more body fat and higher estrogen levels, which reduces stiffness in the ligaments. Although those factors improve flexibility, it decreases power and can make the ligaments more prone to an injury,'' Sensibaugh said.

Junior volleyball player London Davis faced a serious injury to the ligaments in her thumb during a volleyball game. She had to go through reconstruction surgery along with many months is physical therapy.

“It had to take a long time to heal because the surgery was a reconstruction surgery which is so complex, but through lots of rest and physical therapy I was able to get better,” Davis said.

Although there are some freak accidents that come without anyone expecting it, it is essential to make sure processes are followed to help reduce the likeliness of an injury occurring.

“To help reduce injury, make sure to eat healthy, stay hydrated, get enough sleep and maintain a regular sleep pattern. Going to see the trainer as soon as an injury happens is also important,” health teacher Ginger Frye said.

Many athletes create various diets that fits them best for the sport they play and have strict fitness routines like running and weight lifting to help with building strength, which can reduce the vulnerability of the body to injuries.

“I had a really bad injury with my shoulder a few years ago. I was out for many months, and it affected the way I played. That led me to do other activities to strengthen my body so I do not get hurt like that again like running and weightlifting,” senior tennis player Erin Storrer said.

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