Athletes train hard, compete a lot and are subject to a lot of psychological stress. This in turn can increase the chances of injury, overtraining and illness. For elite athletes (and everyone else who trains hard and works or manages a family at the same time), it is about managing the total load.
The IOC brought together a group of experts to discuss the topic of load in sport and risk of injury, overtraining and illness. This resulted in two scientific publications (part 1 and part 2) that were published online this week in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Both papers can be downloaded from the journal’s web site (1, 2).
The International Olympic Committee convened an expert group to review the scientific evidence for the relationship of load which they defined broadly to include rapid changes in training and competition load, competition calendar congestion, psychological load and travel and health outcomes in sport.
Part 1 focusses on injury, part 2 on overtraining and immune function / illness.
The papers also provide athletes, coaches and support staff with practical guidelines to manage load in sport. The consensus statements include guidelines for (1) prescription of training and competition load, as well as for (2) monitoring of training, competition and psychological load, athlete well-being and injury.
With the Zika virus being the topic of so much discussion at the Rio Olympics and with several stories of athletes going home, unable to compete, because of illness (3), I wanted to focus on the importance of immune function and found Professor Mike Gleeson, one of the authors of the papers in BJSM, prepared to write a series of short guest blogs on the topic of immune function.
He will cover:
1. How often do athletes get ill at major competitions? Read now
2. How doe exercise training affect immune function?
3. How can we prevent illness and specifically what is the role of nutrition?
Professor Gleeson who is now Emeritus Professor at Loughborough University and who I had the pleasure of working with at the University of Birmingham, is a real expert in this field. Mike is consulting with several teams and athletes and including Queens Park rangers (QPR), Leicester City FC and the English Institute of Sport (EIS). (He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org)
1. How much is too much? (Part 1) International Olympic Committee consensus statement on load in sport and risk of injury
Torbjørn Soligard, Martin Schwellnus, Juan-Manuel Alonso, Roald Bahr, Ben Clarsen, H Paul Dijkstra, Tim Gabbett, Michael Gleeson, Martin Hägglund, Mark R Hutchinson, Christa Janse van Rensburg, Karim M Khan, Romain Meeusen, John W Orchard, Babette M Pluim, Martin Raftery, Richard Budgett, Lars Engebretsen
Br J Sports Med 2016;50:1030-1041 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-096581
2. How much is too much? (Part 2) International Olympic Committee consensus statement on load in sport and risk of illness
Martin Schwellnus, Torbjørn Soligard, Juan-Manuel Alonso, Roald Bahr, Ben Clarsen, H Paul Dijkstra, Tim J Gabbett, Michael Gleeson, Martin Hägglund, Mark R Hutchinson, Christa Janse Van Rensburg, Romain Meeusen, John W Orchard, Babette M Pluim, Martin Raftery, Richard Budgett, Lars Engebretsen
Br J Sports Med 2016;50:1043-1052 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-096572
3. Rio 2016 Olympics: Rower Graeme Thomas out of Games with illness. http://bbc.in/2b09bM8 (19 Aug 2016)