Friday, December 3

Simone Biles: what are “twisties” and how they can put gymnasts in serious physical risk

The United States Olympic Gymnast Simone Biles, who withdrew from two final events of the Games of Such Citing concern for his mental health, he explained to reporters that he was suffering from “a bit of the ‘twisties.’

He ended immediately sparking an argument among the gymnasts who soon recognized how dangerous this situation must have been. But to the rest of the world, it is a little-known expression.

Then,What are the twisties?

The word comes from the English “twist” which means “to turn”, an expression quite appropriate considering the somersaults in the routines of the gymnasts that describe the twisties What a mental block.

The mental block is something that can happen to any athlete, such as the soccer player who misses a penalty or the golfer who does not make a short shot, thus losing a tournament.

In gymnastics, they can give you a loss of sense of space and dimension when the person is spinning in midair, producing a lack of body control that can result in additional turns or somersaults that were not programmed. In the worst case, it is suddenly impossible for them to finish the exercise safely.

The twisties They can be given to any gymnast even if they have done the same maneuver for many years without problems.

Simone Biles – one of the greatest athletes of all time – seemed to have lost her sense of direction when she did a trestle jump and stumbled when she fell.

It was a moment that instantly caught the attention of those who suspected what might be happening to him.

Dangerous little doubts

Simone Biles gestures after completing her routine at the Tokyo 2020 Games

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Some colleagues suspected that Simone Biles was suffering from an episode of “twisties.”

British gymnast Claudia Fragapane competed in the 2016 Rio Games.

He fell off the uneven bars and the balance beam in the knockout rounds and then, in April this year, had another fall after a mental block resulting in a head injury and failed to qualify for the overall individual final. in Tokyo.

He told the BBC that he could “understand exactly how Simone was feeling.”

“He has such a heavy load on his shoulders. Everybody thinks she’s going to be so perfectly otherworldly and perfect and she’s not human. But she’s actually human, and I think the pressure was just too much“.

“It is very dangerous if you doubt yourself just a little, or they can cause you a lot of difficulties, you can really injure yourself. I’ve been in that situation and I ended up injuring myself ”.

Fragapane explained that as the qualifiers approached in April, he felt “many emotional ups and downs”, knowing that this could be your last chance competing in an Olympics.

She was in the middle of the competition when she made a few mistakes, the gymnast said. “Then I started to worry a little bit and thought I should try my best in my last routine.”

Under that pressure, for some reason, instead of doing a single cartwheel, he found himself attempting a double cartwheel having taken little momentum, Fragapane noted.

He fell on his head and neck and ended up in hospital with a concussion, but claims that could have been paralyzed.

Serious injuries

South African gymnast Claudia Cummins receives care for an injury sustained at the British Commonwealth Games in Australia, April 6, 2018

Getty Images
Loss of control during a gymnastic exercise can result in injuries, sometimes very serious.

Christina Myers, a former gymnast and now gymnastics coach from Birmingham, Alabama, USA, told the BBC that the twisties occur “when your brain and your body disconnect“.

“Imagine that you are in free fall and your parachute does not open,” he said. “Your body begins to add twists and turns to the exercises you should be doing, and that can affect skills that for an elite gymnast are as routine as walking.”

“The only thing your brain wants to do is complete the desired exercise correctly, but your body suddenly feels like it has a will of its own.”

He added that “because the twisties they are mainly psychological, the harder you try to push yourself, the twisties they impose more resistance ”.

For her generation of gymnasts, she claimed, mental pain was not considered a valid reason to take a break from sports.

The effort to overcome twisties He “produced a stress fracture of the spine – an overuse injury made worse by exertion,” which eventually led to him ended his competitive career.

Lose muscle memory

Another former gymnast, Catherine Burns, compared the phenomenon to driving down a highway and suddenly losing muscle memory of how to drive the car.

“You are moving very fast, you are completely lost, you try to think but you know that generally you don’t have to think during these maneuvers, you just feel them and do them,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Not only is it scary and unsettling, it’s incredibly dangerous even when you’re doing basic gymnastics. “

The twisties can result in serious injury.

Former gymnast Jacoby Miles wrote on Instagram that after an episode of twisties particularly bad when it was in the air, broke his neck when he fell.

“I only had to lose myself once … in midair to break my neck and become paralyzed, most likely for the rest of my life,” she wrote.

“I am so happy that [Biles] He decided not to continue until he had mentally recovered ”.

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