As a sports medicine clinic, we spend a lot of time treating athletes’ bodies. And while many people have a pretty clear mental picture of what that means, we know firsthand that what makes an athlete an athlete has little to do with fitting a certain silhouette. Or, to put it another way, this year’s Body Issue from ESPN The Magazine is probably the most representative yet.
It’s no coincidence that the magazine is called the Body Issue; thin, fit people have been giving the rest of us body issues for years. So it was nice to see one athlete in particular gracing this year’s issue: Prince Fielder. At 275 pounds, the Texas Rangers first baseman can hardly be called svelte, and in many ways that’s okay. As a sports medicine clinic, we’ve definitely seen bigger athletes who were still healthy. If you don’t think your body could be called athletic, remember these key things:
- BMI is virtually meaningless. If you are an athlete with a high BMI, it may be due to muscle (which weighs more than fat, as we all know). Having a BMI over 25 does not necessarily make your overweight.
- You can be overweight and still be an athlete. Although maintaining a healthy weight is ideal for your health, being a fit person with a few extra pounds is better than being thin and out of shape.
- Sports injuries often come from doing too much, too soon. So if you want to shed some weight, make sure you take the time to increase your conditioning gradually. We rarely see someone get injured because of a little extra weight, so take it slow.
We have treated athletes with virtually every body type. The most important thing is being healthy enough to play the sports you love.