I’ve written extensively about injuries, hopefully I’ve driven home the fact that they are part of action sport’s life, ‘when’ will you become injured, not ‘if’…
From Dirt Issue 143 – January 2014
Words by Darren Roberts. Photo by Sven Martin.
The cost of doing business, as I call it… we all pay it at some point. As you may know, I spend a huge amount of my time dealing with and managing injuries that are often quite serious. My job is to get an athlete to the best specialist relevant to their injury as quickly as possible, getting them from the point of injury to the clinic, bypassing the 6 to 8 week wait you’d normally have. They’ll then embark on a massively accelerated rehabilitation programme with me and the team, seeing them back to sport as soon as is practically possible. Great if you’re an athlete that I work with or are someone that’s sought me and the team out, but what about everyone else?
The amount of professional action sports athletes that have no mechanism in place to help them when they become injured is frankly staggering. Everything that surrounds that athlete is insured, the bikes, trucks, tools… even the mobile phones in the athlete’s pocket will have some sort of insurance. However the athlete themselves rarely have any sort of cover whatsoever, and if they do have something in place it’s for emergency treatment for when they’re overseas. How any professional extreme sport athletes expects the NHS to return them to elite competition is literally beyond my comprehension. Not because the NHS is incompetent, simply because it is NOT THEIR JOB to return you to sport.
Can you imagine a situation where an academy premiership footballer badly breaks their leg in a game, then they’re left to sort themselves out with medical advice? This situation seems to be the norm in action sports, which as ‘professional’ sports and athletes makes no sense whatsoever. Whose actual responsibility is it to help these athletes when they injure themselves, who gets them back to competition? Obviously some teams and forward thinking brands actively help their athletes in these situations, and if you’re on the GB team you get access to the BOA athlete medical scheme. However that is a tiny fraction at the top of the pyramid, what about everyone else?
For the weekend warrior, you hit the trails hard with friends, and good on you for doing so. You crash and dislocate your shoulder, then what? A&E and take your chances with the treatment you receive? Are you planning on going to work on Monday? Can you even get to work or carry out your job with an arm in a sling or leg in a cast? There is absolutely no way you’d even think about leaving your bike unlocked and somewhere someone could wheel it away – yet you yourself probably do not have anything in place for when the inevitable happens.
It is absolutely heart breaking to watch an athlete or weekend warrior become injured, a potential season threatening injury rapidly becomes an actual season ending injury, then career threatening injury as they go in circles. As an athlete or weekend warrior you need to seek out that expert advice that’s going to get you back to sport – do you want to travel for three hours to see someone who is actually going to fix you, or 20 minutes to someone just because they’re local?
Injuries are the cost of doing business in action sports, so start factoring it into your budget…Darren ‘Conehead’ Roberts is high performance manager at Peak Performance Fitness. Working with the UK’s household names in extreme sports such as Danny MacAskill, the Atherton’s and many more…
This article is part of the Work Out series. You can find the rest of Darren Roberts’ training tips through the links below: