Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Coaches, athletes should be concerned with effects of constant weight management

Many sports require weight management in order for athletes to perform at their peak. There is a difference between weight management and weight issues, however.

Sports like gymnastics, cross country and dancing are notorious for pushing girls and guys towards body image issues. In some sports, it’s important for performance. In others, it’s important because the athlete is judged in part on the way they look.

Some athletes become obsessed with weighing as little as possible. They believe they will perform better this way, and in some ways they are right. Of course it is easier to run a faster mile at a lower weight. But there is a limit.

When athletes become obsessed with lowering their weight, it can lead to severe body image issues and eating disorders. Athletes may see an uptick in their performances when they cross the border into eating disorders, but it is not worth the long-term effects.

When eating disorders begin to take their toll on athletes, the individual’s performance will begin to slip. In some cases, athletes who suffer from an eating disorder are not taking in the nutrition they need to keep their body in the best shape. Injuries become more prevalent because the body cannot rebuild itself after a workout when it isn’t given the right nutrition.

Coaches and teammates should take notice of athletes who may be suffering from an eating disorder. While it may seem important that an athlete weigh as little as possible in order to perform, the effects of an eating disorder can extend far past the time when an athlete is finished competing.

According a University of Maryland Medical Center article, people who suffer from an eating disorder may experience heart disease, loss of bone density and neurological problems among many other side effects at a greater rate than people who do not have an eating disorder.

These long-term health issues are far greater than any competition. Coaches should encourage proper weight management techniques for athletes to perform at their best for a long period of time. They should also ensure that the athlete will not suffer from long-term health issues from extreme dieting or other eating disorders. Coaches should not push athletes to an unhealthy limit. There is difference between a healthy thin and a weight that causes concern for the athlete.

Teammates and coaches should also be aware of warning signs. The earlier an eating disorder is recognized, according to the University of Maryland article, the greater the possibility the person can reach out for help in overcoming it. The athlete may be able to overcome the disorder before it begins to adversely affect their athletic performance.

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