Open Communication for Athlete Injuries
A culture of toughness discourages reports of pain and injury.
Trainers may want to prioritize cultivating a nonjudgmental atmosphere of open communication, particularly when training elite-level athletes, to ensure honest conversations about pain and injury. In a study of high-performance rowers in Ireland, researchers noted that many athletes felt compromised by lower-back pain but did not feel they could speak openly and honestly about their condition for fear of being excluded from the sport.
Many athletes continued to compete and train in pain, potentially putting them at greater risk for poor pain outcomes and heightened negative experiences. A rower’s experience of lower-back pain can lead to isolation and have a profound impact on the athlete’s life beyond sport. Some rowers, however, reported being in a system where openness was encouraged—they regarded this as leading to better health outcomes.
Study authors noted that athletes and support staff “should be educated regarding benefits of early disclosure and rowers should be supported to do so without judgement.” The research appeared in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (2020; doi:10.1136/bjsports-2020-102514).
Question of the Month: Open Communication?
As a fitness professional, what techniques or strategies do you use to facilitate an atmosphere of authentic, open communication with clients? If you are a program director or manager, what guidance or trainings do you offer your professional staff to improve communications? Have you, through experience, developed any best practices? Tell us about your experiences and the lessons you’ve learned.
We want to hear from you! Email executive editor Joy Keller, [email protected].
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