Women athletes may be more prone to injury according to an article in the Observer at the weekend. Sportswomen, for example, are eight times more likely to suffer anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) damage than men, an injury to their knee that can need months of recovery and leave permanent damage. But does that mean that women shouldn’t take up sport? Or just that more needs to be done to make them aware of the dangers, and ways in which they can avoid them? Apparently the correct warm-up and cool-down sessions can reduce injury by 70 per cent, while being aware of a potential weakness in that area can lead to girls being screened from a young age and taught how to overcome the weakness. The problem as always is the soundbite headlines that misrepresent the facts. ‘Sportswomen more prone to injury’ could understandably put girls off sport at a time when they need all the encouragement they can get. ‘Warm-up essential to avoid injury’ is far less sensational, but that’s the message that people really need to hear.
And on the subject of sportswomen, there’s an interesting interview with Victoria Pendleton in today’s Guardian highlighting the demands of perfectionism. In spite of winning two world championships and an Olympic gold medal this year, she feels dissatisfied and under pressure to achieve. She says, ‘I'm terrible. I beat myself up the whole time because I'm striving for something I'll basically never achieve. I portray this image of confidence, of arrogance, and it's not really me. I'm never satisfied and I'm never content. It means I'm a bit of a mess some of the time. But I wouldn't be here talking to you if I was a different person.’ Many girls struggle with perfectionism, and the feeling that if they do well it’s a fluke rather than down to their own efforts or talents. This interview could be a good discussion starter.