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My good friend and colleague Dave Tilley joined me live to discuss all things gymnastics, especially the culture of the sport. Dave not only is one of the top physical therapists in the sport, but was also a collegiate gymnastic and now is a current coach himself. Like me, he strongly aligns with the philosophy of taking time to rest, being properly fueled, and taking care of injuries. As you all know, this ideology is in every way the exact opposite of what gymnastics culture stands for. If you want to catch our chat, click the link below.  

Providers vs. Culture

  • Often a dichotomy between what providers preach and what coaches say 
  • Reasons for the dichotomy 
    • Coaches rely on the way they were coached as gymnasts and transfer it directly onto their athletes, regardless of it is safe, helpful, or currently factual. 
    • Influence from the external media: “no carbs”, “go keto”, “intermittent fasting”, “water makes you gain weight” 
    • No interdisciplinary teams 
      • Coaches believe they can be the coach, doctor, dietician, therapist, and physical therapist all at once 
  • No cross over between specialties of providers who are more educated in their field 
  • 99.99% of the time chronic injuries and stress fractures are caused by underfueling and/or overtraining  

Coaches Not Onboard with Nutrition Plan

  • There are ways to get fact acting carbohydrates without snacks 
    • Gatorade 
    • Coconut water with a pinch of salt 
    • Fruit smoothie 
  • The dietician can always go in and educate the coach as best as they can 
  • Parents/gymnasts/providers can use their performance benefits when properly fueling as evidence that their gymnastics improves when they have a snack mid-workout 
  • With the proper amount of fuel, gymnasts can actually have the ability to make it through a 3-5 hour practice and also become a much more coachable athlete 
  • So many gymnasts have rapid mood decline from the energetic and motivated side to the crying and anger side.  
  • COACHES: This is a huge sign that your gymnast is underfueled 

Injury and Body Changes

  • When your athlete is injured and then her body changes from being able to relax, it does not mean they are too big or “fat”, it just means that their body it working properly and moving towards womanhood. 
    • A large reason that their bodies change so drastically is because so many of them have undiagnosed RED-S, so when they properly nourish themselves their body changes to where it should be in the developmental process.  
  • One way to help the gymnast’s mentality during the beginning of healing (when very minimal movement is allowed), is to find exercises that work with their capabilities and let them do them safely. 
  • Your gymnast’s body should change when you take time off of gymnastics. This change means you are getting adequate nutrition that can help with healing of the injury. 
  • Your Gymnast Will Be 
    • Weaker, softer, less endurance, etc.  
  • Even though your gymnast’s body changes and they cannot exercise the same as before, YOUR BODY STILL NEEDS FOOD 

How to Help Your Gymnast

  • Aiming to supply things proactively as an educational resource. 
  • Reevaluating sleep, water intake, food intake, etc. as they increase training times  
  • Empowering parents and coaches by educating them on the nutrition recommendations that are helpful to their athlete and that will increase their performance quality as a gymnast.  

I hope you got something out of this collaboration with Dave Tilley and really took away the importance of prevention. Keeping your gymnast properly fueled, especially through periods of injury and illness, is ESSENTIAL to keep their gymnastics performance quality up. By looping in your gymnast’s therapist, dietician, doctor, coach, etc. it allows for the care of the entire athlete, instead of just the physical piece. 

Educating their coaches is another thing that is extremely important, as they are normally the first people to give incorrect information on nutrition leading your gymnast to go down the restriction slide. The great thing is that there is a one stop shop to learn and implement all of these pieces. I have just launched The Balanced Gymnast Method, which includes everything from nutrition basics to parent and coach information sessions. It really has something for everyone and is an extremely useful educational tool to inform loved ones in your gymnast’s life who really don’t have a clear outlook on nutrition. If you are interested in bettering yourself, your gymnast, and her coaches, this is the perfect thing for you.

Dave and I have had a great time sharing our knowledge and if you want more support please feel free to contact me and schedule a discovery call!