Mind Over Matter

Proper recovery is important to ensure an athlete’s physical health.

by Isabel Glover, Staff Writer

     On January 2, Damar Hamlin, Buffalo Bills safety, went into cardiac arrest after a hard-hitting tackle. Following his collapse, Hamlin wasn’t responsive, but after CPR, his heartbeat was revived on the field. He was then transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in critical condition. Hamlin is doing better now and is back at home. 

     It is not for sure known why Hamlin’s heart stopped but cardiac experts said that the hit to the chest may have sent his heart into arrhythmia. As a direct result of Hamiln’s frightening health scare in the middle of a game, questions and concerns surrounding the health of athletes have become a prevalent topic in the athletic community. 

      Alexa DeClue, STA athletic trainer, talks about the importance of athlete’s physical health and recovery.

     “The main thing is that they [athletes] listen to their body and notice any minor thing that is off,” DeClue said. “It’s warranted to ask a trainer and not let it linger. Also, body stretching, rolling out, all that kind of stuff is really important as well. It’s like maintenance on your machine, which is your body.”

     In DeClue’s experience, she has found it is all too common for athletes to compromise their health for the sake of a sport.

     “There are a lot of those athletes out there,” DeClue said. “Oftentimes, they won’t come to me and those are the athletes that ‘suffer in silence.’ The athletes that do come in, sometimes warranted, are listening to their body.”

     In order to prevent these major injuries, DeClue has found that it is important to do proper recovery after a game or practice.

     “It depends on the activity but staying hydrated and fueling your body properly helps. Stretching before and after you play prevents injury,” DeClue said.

    The phrase “mind over matter” is commonly used to describe the use of willpower to overcome physical problems. Athletes use this expression to lessen the extremity of an injury.  Mind over matter has an effect on athletes’ “need to play.” 

     “When it comes to your health, you have to think long-term and not short-term,” DeClue said. “An athlete’s physical health means more than finishing a sports game.”

     Senior Sophia VanHorn is well acquainted with pain as a direct result of athletics. She broke her foot last year playing soccer.

     “I was practicing at my old [boarding] school, and a teammate stepped on my foot,” VanHorn said. “I broke two bones and tore ligaments in my foot.” 

     As a result of various factors, VanHorn wasn’t initially aware of the severity of her injury.

     “I was away from my parents so they couldn’t see how bad I was hurting,” VanHorn said. 

“I had to rely on the athletic trainers there and they told me it was just a bruise, so I continued to play on it for three months.”

     VanHorn felt immense pressure to continue playing and it was hard for her to stop. 

     “Being one of the older girls on the team, I had a leadership role, and I was the person the younger girls looked up to,” VanHorn said. I felt like if I stopped playing for having a “bruise” as the athletic trainers called it, that wouldn’t be very fair to the team.”

     It is crucial for athletes to get proper recovery when they are injured.  

     “I’m luckily not in any physical therapy,” VanHorn said. “I’ve had two surgeries and had five inch long screws put in to stabilize everything and I got the screws taken out Jan.13. I’ve been going to the gym to try and build my strength and stamina back. It’s been awful taking time for my injury. I’ve been playing soccer since I could walk and I’ve never had more than a two week break.”

     “Pain is like a red flag for your body. Athletes need to take proper precautions and stay in tune with their bodies to ensure physical well-being,” DeClue said.