All athletes at some time or another will need to compete or perform in front of a crowd. For some athletes however, they are always in the spot light. Performance athletes such as dancers, gymnasts, and figure skaters have the added pressure of always being critiqued on how they perform.
For many performance athletes both male and female the pressure to look good as well as perform at their best pushes them to extremes that other athletes don't try to achieve. As with many athletes the fear of losing a position is great with all performance athletes. This fear be it real or imagined can drive athletes to try and do anything to keep their position.
When dancers, gymnasts, figure skaters and cheerleaders become injured the notion of rest and recovery is a foreign concept to them. They will hide injuries from their coaches and parents, not wanting them to know as their coach or parent may take them out of sport for the duration of their injury. Performance athletes are prone to over use of pain medications due to this, which now causes more health issues on top of the initial injury. However, some coaches and instructors expect their athletes to push through all injuries no matter how detrimental it will be to them both short and long term. In some clubs and studios it is expected that athletes will train and compete through pain and that personal sacrifice and risk taking are expected and shows how dedicated you are to your sport, teacher and studio. These athletes also tend to feel large amounts of guilt if they do become injured as they feel they are letting their coach, parent, team or troupe down.
A change of culture needs to occur in these sports. Somehow all of us from coaches, parents, athletes, officials and health care providers need to encourage performance athletes to properly manage their injuries. They need to know that their place in their team or troupe is secure and that their long term health is important. Educating athletes and coaches to see beyond the next performance is part of this change. No matter the sport proper injury prevention and management coming from all aspects of the athletes life is important. The more education that coaches, athletes and parents have the safer the athletes will be in the present and future.