After years of tough training, the 22-year-old Olympic star admits he's at risk of suffering from degenerative disc disease
Tom Daley has admitted that years of diving has taken its toll on his body.
The 22-year-old competed in his first Olympics at the age of 14, and could now potentially end up suffering from a crippling back condition.
He tells the Daily Mail: ‘We hit the water at 35mph and it takes 1.6 seconds from the top to the bottom. You hit the water and pretty much stop straight away so it’s not easy on your body.
‘That’s why I’m going to have to train smart between now and Tokyo 2020, making sure I’m doing all the preventative things I need to do like yoga, pilates, ballet and more stretching to make sure I’m in the best shape.
‘There’s only a certain amount the human body can take, and the constant twisting and turning can really affect your body. I’ve had all sorts wrong with me.
‘I’ve torn my tricep, a degenerative disc and a disc bulge in my back all because of the constant hitting of the water.
‘My disc is literally degenerating – it’s impact, impact, impact, but it’s something you just have to learn to deal with. I’ve been told I could [end up in a wheelchair] but I wouldn’t say it scares me because I know what I need to do with my body to stay on top of it. The plan is to get to 2020, and beyond.’
Degenerative disc disease occurs when the discs between the vertebrae break down.
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While it can be genetic and is most common in those over 40, it’s also found in those who do sports that put stress on the spine, like diving.
But Tom has already come up with a plan to reduce his risk, continuing: ‘The key is not to just stop exercise after retiring too, like a lot of people do after giving up sport.
‘I have to make sure I carry on doing yoga and stretching.’
We’re glad to hear Tom’s got a plan in place, and that we’ll still get to see him compete in the future.