Elite sport and bone stress injuries
Playing sport provides us with many benefits. It’s competitive, it allows athletes to set and achieve goals, it pushes their physical and mental strength, and it’s entertaining. However, despite all the benefits, injuries are prevalent among even the most elite athletes in the world. Specifically, bone stress injuries such as acute fractures account for over 10% of all injuries associated with elite sport.
How do bone stress injuries occur?
A fracture can be described as a crack in a bone which commonly occurs from trauma or high impact. More commonly in elite sport, stress fractures, small and thin cracks, can develop from repetitive overload. This occurs by the many hours of training associated with elite sport. Running and jumping sports specifically result in higher bone stress prevalence. The most common body parts where stress fractures occur are the foot and shin bones. The second most areas are ribs and forearm bones in sports such as basketball, track and field, baseball, and soccer
So how can elite athletes reduce their risk of acquiring a bone injury?
Firstly, as mentioned in our previous blogs, recovery time is just as important as the training itself. It is important that adequate rest days are allocated in an athletes training week. This ensures their body has some down time to undertake vital repair processes for muscles and bones.
Secondly, diet and nutrition also come into play for elite athletes performance and bone health. Vitamin D and calcium are crucial nutrients to help build and strengthen bones to withstand the high demand of competitive sports. Vitamin D is crucial for bone health and insufficiency can lead to lower bone mass and density, thus supplementation could assist athletes to maintain their bone health. This is your excuse to get a little bit more sun each day. Thirdly, load management. It is easy to ramp up the training when you’re achieving goal after goal. However increasing load too fast is detrimental to bone health. A gradual increase in load to enable bones to adapt in a healthy way is crucial to the prevention of stress fractures. We will be doing a blog post about load management in the coming weeks so keep an eye out for this!
If you have any further questions about how to reduce the risk of stress fractures in your sport, call us on 07 3352 5116 or book online.