Dysmenorrhea and Injury Link
A survey of 127 Swedish female endurance runners found that athletes with menstrual dysfunction missed more training time recovering from injury than those with normal menstrual cycles.
Fifty-seven percent of the surveyed women had been injured at least once in the past year, experiencing tendonitis, sprained ligaments, strained or inflamed muscles, fractures and other musculoskeletal injuries.
Women who were injured suffered the same frequency and types of injuries regardless of their menstrual pattern.
But those who menstruated less than once every six weeks were sidelined by their injuries for much longer than those with more frequent cycles - an average of 34 days for dysmenorrheic women, versus 25 days for women with normal cycles on oral contraceptives, and a mere nine days for women with normal cycles who were not on oral contraceptives.
Whether dysmenorrheic women suffered more severe injuries or were slower to heal is unclear, but researchers theorize that hormonal imbalances may be to blame for their longer recovery time, particularly high cortisol, low estrogen, and low IGF-1 levels.
Nutritional deficiency, which is known to inhibit the ability to heal wounds, may also be a culprit. Dysmenorrheic women had low BMIs - 19 on average - and a higher incidence of binge eating than the other women, both of which might indicate nutritional deficiencies.
Overtraining might be a factor in injury severity, as dysmenorrheic women trained about 25 percent more hours per week than the normally menstruating women.
Source: Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation, 2000; 49, 1, 41-46
This appeared in ACE FitnessMatters, ACE's official magazine.
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