The Condition That’s Quietly Injuring Female Athletes
Over the past 30 years, female endurance athletes have increasingly been injured from a quiet injury. The Female Athlete Triad, which manifests in low energy levels, low bone density, and loss of a period, can severely restrict an athlete’s ability to compete or even function normally during mundane tasks and chores. Each of these components can exist in healthy athletes to overtrained, and depending upon the athlete’s training levels, can float between each end of the spectrum and does not need to have all 3 conditions to be diagnosed with the condition. Having the presence of just one of these conditions is a major red flag and cause for concern, since this can lead to long term issues like infertility, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular issues.
Identifying the condition that’s quietly injuring female athletes can be tough since most athletes are treated in silos: one condition at a time. An orthopedist may treat the stress fractures, and dietician may address the eating disorder, and a gynecologist may evaluate the lack of menstruation. Only a handful of doctors are able to identify the components of the triad and effectively treat all aspects of the condition.
The difficulty for most athletes and their doctors is knowing when it is safe to return to sport and eventual competition. Usually a period of rest and addressing the eating habits and nutrition is the 1st step in recovery, and once training resumes, it is important to closely follow an athlete making sure they do not overtrain. Rest is also addressed – something many athletes don’t get enough when they are overtraining. Sleep an recovery are just as important as exercise. The long-term health of an athlete should always supercede the short term gains.
If you or someone you know has experienced symptoms similar to these and would like a consultation, please give us a call at 201-773-8851 or swing by for a visit.