8 Lessons From the IOC Sports Injury and Illness Prevention Conference

I spent the week at the IOC Sports Injury and Illness Prevention Conference.

Here are some of the “pearls” from the conference.

  • The best predictor of injury is previous injury. That seems self-evident, but it’s really all that is left when you factor out the confounding variables.
  • Rest is an important part of training and often ignored. Skipping rest days increases risk of overuse injury and reduced performance. At least one day a week should be dedicated to rest for adults and 1-2 per week for children.
  • Adequate nutrition is critical to performance and the marker of body energy deficit in women is loss of the menstrual period. If you lose your periods, and you are not pregnant, more kilojoules or less mileage should bring them back. If not, see your physician.
  • The best running shoe is the one that feels most comfortable on your foot. Dr. Nigg, from the University of Calgary, Canada, called it the “comfort filter” and over time it has been the only factor that seems to make any difference in running shoe choice and injury prevention. The same holds for the addition shoe inserts (or not using inserts). Altering pronation, supporting the heel, cushioning, and other modifications have not made much difference. So wear the shoe that is comfortable on your foot.
  • There was a presentation on growth plate injuries in children. Baseball and gymnastics seemed to be the most frequent culprits, but any sport can be overdone. Distance running was briefly mentioned in a young boy who was participating in a dozen sports; several at a time. My take away for kids is one sport at a time and do more than one sport. A survey of Division I varsity athletes showed 2-3 sports per athlete and the average age of specialisation at the 15-16 year old level.
  • Longer distance races, beyond marathon distance, have more race medical encounters than the half marathon distance. Although in this study out of South Africa, the risk of dying from cardiac arrest was greater in the half marathon. The underlying concern revolved around runners at shorter distances coming into race day less well prepared.
  • Pre-race screening for long distance racing is being tested using internet based health questionnaires associated with the registration forms. The data is used to focus education on different groups of entrants. Another pre-race question set is aimed at prerace risk factors like upper respiratory infections with recommendations not to start or to slow the pace if ill, especially with fever.
  • One of the Boston Marathon medical directors presented on the community emergency network involvement in the marathon medical team; a partnership that has been building over the years and further strengthened by last year’s tragedy. – BILL

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