Skip links

Beckham – The Biopyschosocial Model

The Beckham documentary has been a hit across all of our screens. Whether you watched it for Posh or Becks, we can all appreciate how David Beckham has been the cornerstone of British football for decades, shaping a lot of young lives and changing the way that the press interacted with British football. 

This prompted us at GHG to consider how we look at sports injury and rehabilitation. Whilst the patient in front of us is at the centre of every consultation and our service offering is always holistic, we thought we’d explore the biopsychosocial model in this blog post. 

Taking an infamous day in 2002, when Beckham as captain broke his ‘metatarsal’ (bone in the foot) during United’s Champion League match, effectively ending his season with United, where he was the best goal scorer. 


We’ll start by looking purely at the biological side – the fracture itself. 

Healing in fractures, usually needs to be tackled with rest, symptomatic treatment and an exercise based rehabilitation programme.  We unfortunately can’t glue bones together! It can take about 6-12 weeks for the fractures to heal, a process which may be painful and result in swelling around the area – which should be managed conservatively with rest, icing and elevation. A boot may help with stability and allow someone to engage in their exercise programme, wearing it exclusively for standing and walking, rather than at rest. 

An exercise programme is effectively for re-building strength and fine motor skill, especially since the metatarsal is found in the front of the foot. Exercises like marble pick-ups, towel scrunches and resisted ankle movements form the mainstay of this plan. 


Perhaps more importantly for Beckham’s injury, was the consideration of the psychological effects of this injury. As highlighted in the documentary, Beckham’s relationship with the British press and public was tumultuous. Coming off the back of the great send-off of 1998 against Argentina, it would’ve been essential for Beckham to maintain a strong psyche to combat any backlash. In this scenario, United went on to lose the race for the Premier League title and the Champions League race, a big blow to one of the biggest teams in the league. This is where sports psychology is key – it’s an area of allied healthcare where athletes are helped to maintain performance levels by being given tools to regulate emotions and therefore overcoming any obstacles to setting achievable goals.  

By employing simple tools in rehabilitation and recovery can be beneficial – such as the use of positive mental imagery. It can be used pre-game to visual the desired the result and during recovery to visualise post- rehabilitation achievements. This process boosts cognitive control, which is critical to maintain mental fitness and mitigate feelings of hopeless during rehabilitation. 


Finally, it is pertinent to consider the social side of any patient. Recovery can feel like a very isolating process, so it’s essential for any clinician to ask a patient about the support they may have at home or through a wider network. This could be for simple considerations as someone to assist in completion of the exercise programme or to ensure that weight-bearing is to a minimum. With Beckham, another consideration would be the backlash of fans and the press, heightening stress and therefore poses a threat to ease of the recovery process. 

So, at GHG, how do we use our multidisciplinary team to address the biopsychosocial model? 

Our incredible team of experienced MSK clinicians use their expertise to ensure your adjunctive treatment during injury is efficient and effective. Our personal trainers can implement your exercise-based rehabilitations as a wider part of your fitness goals and therefore can stretch beyond that initial recovery period. Our talking therapy and social prescription services are essential to help with the psychosocial side of recovery, providing tools to achieve a mentally optimal mindset for recovery and signposting to services in the local area to enhance support during recovery, making it a less lonely process. 

Leave a comment