The ‘b-side’ of weight cuts

The Julija Stoliarenko He transcended his sport a few days ago when he got dizzy standing on the scale. Weight cutting is a very important issue in contact sports. The more the athlete can reduce his body mass, the greater his advantage can be when in action. This causes that limits are sometimes exceeded. Stoliarenko’s dizziness is just one example. An aggressive cut can affect performance, but it is not the only thing. There are other dangerous factors behind these practices if they are not done responsibly. To know that ‘face b’ AS has spoken with the sports psychologist José García Donate and with the expert psychologist in Eating Disorders Robin Rica, who provide their services at the Centta clinic in Madrid.

Any weight cut places significant stress on the body. We alter many behaviors and when you do it very abruptly for this purpose it is dangerous. Fluid is lost and can throw electrolytes out of balance, causing the heart to function properly. The risk of heart problems if done wrong is high“, recognizes Robin Rica. That is the most well-known effect, but these practices can generate more things.” An athlete of these disciplines is a population at risk. If someone tells us that they are going to lose ten kilos in a week we get scared, but in this context it is understood and the risk for it is greater“, Add.

The mental plane is the one that is least thought about, but it is equally important when it comes to these practices. “The most important concept is that of sports identity. That is, how deeply rooted the person is in their role as an athlete. In these sports it is thought that you are very close to the fight, which is with a lower weight than usual. Therefore, when there is a period without competing, you see yourself out of that role. When you associate performance with a weight, frustration and guilt can appear, which can lead to eating disorders because you want to achieve what an effort costs you in a faster way“, warns José García Donate, who also points to a key figure: the coach.”The role of the coach as a health agent is fundamental in these cases, since for the athlete it is a fundamental reference figure, a kind of paternal / maternal figure. Accompany athletes watching over their physical and mental health, working with other professionals (nutritionists, sports doctors, psychologists, etc.) or referring to the first warning signs that an athlete is putting himself at risk “, adds the sports psychologist .

Both García Donate and Rica advise: “Although it is a widespread practice in combat sports, weight cutting is an extreme practice that is not harmless both physically and psychologically. Leading our athletes to this type of behavior should lead us to reflect on what our priorities are by putting supposed performance above health. It is paradoxical that the closer we get to the sports elite, where we might think that athletes are more medically, nutritionally and psychologically supervised, is precisely the context where more extreme behavior is observed. Never forget that before the performance of an athlete is the health of the person“It is difficult for a practice such as weight cutting, so ingrained, to change, but the way to face it can be key in the future health of athletes. Stoliarenko, the latest example.