24 hours as an Olympic gymnast

Benjamin Goodall, senior tumbling gymnast for the British tumbling gymnastics team, Chiropractor and member of the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) shines a light on what 24 hours as an Olympic gymnast is like.

With the Artistic Gymnastics Finals taking place this week, Benjamin Goodall discusses how Team GB’s gymnastics team might be preparing…

Before the event

“It’s a common misconception that the most important thing about being a gymnast is being flexible, and this is just not the case – strength plays a huge role in a gymnast’s training so that their body’s can handle the large forces they place on them during their routines. Leading up to a competition gymnast’s will focus on repetition of their routines, aiming for quality rather than quantity, as this is ultimately the only activity they will be doing on the big day. That way the movements become ingrained in their muscle memory.

“Gymnasts will also be looking to keep consistency not only in their dietary habits leading up to their event, but also their sleep schedules. As you can imagine, many athletes feel stressed and anxious before a competition, and heading into an event after a bad night’s sleep can make this worse. It’s important that the gymnasts maintain the same sleep pattern they are used to, especially as they have jumped time zones, and get a good night’s sleep before their big day. To help with this, some might use sleeping and mindfulness apps.”

During the event

“Athletes are creatures of habits and often have small rituals in place to help stay focused in the moments leading up to a big competition. For gymnasts it’s common to run through their routines in their head immediately before stepping up to the apparatus.

“Like other athletes, gymnasts often use technology to ‘get in the zone’ during competitions, such as mindfulness apps and music.”

 After the event

“In the immediate moments after a competition, recovery is paramount to reduce any strain or pain that athletes may experience. Gymnastics is a high impact sport, which causes bodies to be placed under a high amount of stress. This is why recovery is so important. Ice baths are commonly used by many in a recovery setting, however there is little evidence which shows this aids muscle recovery.

“Many gymnasts will also start to slowly put on the weight they lost before the competition, to help their body fully recover and prepare for training again. This can often take two to three weeks.

”Most importantly though, I would hope that gymnasts are using this time to reflect on what an accomplishment it was for them to reach an Olympics final. Gymnastics is a fascinating sport which requires a lot, both physically and mentally. All gymnasts should be very proud of the dedication and work they put into reaching the Olympics.”