Retired elite athletes’ health analysis

Dr. Med., Professor O.S. Kogan1
Dr. Sc. Hist., Professor S.D. Galiullina1
1Ufa State Petroleum Technological University, Ufa

Keywords: elite sports, physical and mental stressors, coach’s health, medical rehabilitation.

Background. Analyses of the research literature and our own studies show the sport careers exposing athletes to multiple factors of influence that make the activity comparable with many industrial hazardous jobs in terms of the direct and indirect energy costs, injury risks, job-specific hardships, mental and physical stressors etc. Many health disorders diagnosed in the physical education and sport sector personnel and athletes upon retirement are known to form in the early days of their sport careers [1]. The process of the elite athletes’ re-socializing upon retirement from sports (including the further careers in coaching or other physical education and sport services) is still largely underexplored despite the fact that such studies may be rather beneficial and productive in the theoretical and practical aspects.

Objective of the study was to analyze the elite retired athletes’ health statistics with an emphasis on the chronic disease incidence rates.

Methods and structure of the study. The study analyzes the health data produced by medical examination at the Bashkortostan Republican Physical Health Clinic, with the 31-45 year old elite athletes (n=233) qualified Masters of Sports (n=221, including 164 males and 69 females) and World Class Masters of Sports (n=12) specialized in cyclic sports, speed-strength-intensive sports, martial arts, high-coordination-intensive and team sports sampled for the study. The sample was split up into Experimental Group (EG) of the top-professional coaches (former elite athletes, national and international title holders) and Reference Group (RG, n=76 including 52 males and 24 females) of the 31-45 years old coaches, untitled amateur athletes, graduates of Bashkir Institute of Physical Culture and sport faculties in some other relevant educational establishments in Ufa city.

Results and discussion. Chronic disease incidence analysis of the sample found 134.8 cases per 100 on average – that means that each individual was diagnosed with more than one chronic disease on average. The female and male groups were tested with 147.8 and 129.3 cases per 100, respectively, albeit the difference was found statistically meaningless: see Table 1.

Table 1. Chronic disease incidence rates, cases per 100 people

 

Sports

Group

Cases per 100

Total

Including

MS+PNS

MBD

MSS

UGS

GIS

Other

HT

ID

ESD

Experimental Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speed-strength sports

51

164,5

77,4

25,8

-

9,7

12,9

6,5

16,1

9,7

6,5

Martial arts

57

140,4

54,4

43,9

5,3

3,5

14,0

1,8

10,5

3,5

3,5

Cyclic sports

79

130,4

46,8

36,7

5,1

15,2

10,1

1,3

8,9

6,3

-

High-coordination sports

31

125,8

51,6

38,7

6,5

6,5

6,5

3,2

9,7

3,2

-

Team sports

35

117,1

54,3

37,1

-

5,7

11,4

-

5,7

2,9

-

Total

233

134,8*

54,5

37,3*

3,9

9,0

11,2

2,1

9,9*

5,2*

1,7*

Males

164

129,3

54,9

34,8

3,0

5,5

12,2

1,8

10,4

4,9

1,8

Females

69

147,8

53,6

43,5

5,8

17,4

8,7

2,9

8,7

5,8

1,4

Reference Group

Total

76

84,2

35,5

18,4

3,9

9,2

7,9

5,3

3,9

-

-

Males

52

76,9

30,8

19,2

5,8

3,8

7,7

7,7

3,8

-

-

Females

24

100,0

45,8

16,7

-

20,8

8,3

-

4,2

-

-

Note: *significant difference of the EG vs. RG data ( р<0.01); MS+PNS musculoskeletal and peripheral nervous system disorders; MBD mental and behavioral disorders; MSS musculoskeletal diseases; UGS urinogenital diseases; GIS gastrointestinal system diseases; HT hypertension disease; ID ischemic disease; ESD endocrinal system (including obesity) disease

Most vulnerable to the chronic diseases in the EG were found the elite athletes from the speed-strength sports (164.5 cases per 100) followed by those from martial arts (140.4 cases per 100); cyclic and high-coordination-intensive sports (130.4 and 125.8 cases per 100, respectively); and team sports (117.1 cases per 100).

By the disease classes, the musculoskeletal and peripheral nervous system disorders (54.5% versus 35.5% in the EG and RG, respectively) were most spread in the EG; with musculoskeletal disorders found in every analyzed sport discipline. Most often they were diagnosed in the speed-strength- sports subgroup (77.4%); followed by the martial arts and team sports subgroups (54.4% and 51.6%, respectively); and the  high-coordination-intensive and cyclic sports subgroups (51.6% and 46.8%, respectively).

As verified by many study reports, the chronic overloads of the musculoskeletal system are associated with harmful primary degenerative and dystrophic effects [6]. The acute injuries of the musculoskeletal system give rise to the secondary degenerative and dystrophic diseases that may easily result in disabilities when the health rehabilitation programs are not timely and/or efficient enough [5].

Musculoskeletal disorders in the speed-strength sports subgroup were found dominated by the inflammatory degenerative and dystrophic ailments, with 29% of the EG diagnosed with osteochondrosis with radicular syndrome.

In martial arts subgroup of the EG, the degenerative and dystrophic ailments of the musculoskeletal and peripheral nervous systems were found dominated by the deforming arthrosis/ arthritis of the wrist/ elbow/ shoulder joints (15.8% of the subgroup);  osteochondrosis with radicular syndrome was diagnosed in 21.1% of the subgroup; and 10.5% was diagnosed with lumbosacral radiculitis and neuralgia.

In the cyclic sport subgroup of the EG, musculoskeletal system diseases were found in 13.9%; and 41.2% of the subgroup dominated by the degenerative and dystrophic diseases of the lumbar and thoracic segments.

The team sports subgroup of the EG was diagnosed with the deforming arthrosis/ arthritis of the knee/ ankle joints (11.4% of the subgroup) and osteochondrosis with radicular syndrome (25.7% of the subgroup).

Many study reports have analyzed the mental/ social stressors harmful for the athletes’ health standards including those associated with the competitive mental conditioning processes, interpersonal conflicts in the teams, high competitiveness, motivational issues, family relationship etc. – that expose athletes to the high risks of mental and behavioral disorders  [2, 3]. In addition, as demonstrated by some study reports, the higher is the individual physiological sensitivity to stressors, the higher are the risks of injuries [4].

The highest proportion of the nervous system pathologies (neurocirculatory dystonia, neurosis, neurasthenia) in the EG was found in the martial arts subgroup (43.9%); followed by the high-coordination-intensive sports subgroup (38,7%); cyclic sports subgroup (36.7%); team sports subgroups (37,1%); and speed-strength sports subgroup (25.8%).

Ranked third by the incidence rates were the cardiovascular system diseases (HT and ID) diagnosed in 15.0% of the EG, with 65.7% of the EG diagnosed with HT (hypertension disease) and 34.3% with ID (ischemic disease). By the sport subgroups in the EG, most vulnerable to the cardiovascular diseases was the speed-strength sports subgroup (25.8%) followed by the cyclic sports subgroup (15.2%); martial arts subgroup (14%) and the team sports subgroup (8.6%).

Gastrointestinal disorders were diagnosed in 11.2% of the EG (biliary dyskinesia, chronic cholecystitis, chronic gastritis, chronic pancreatitis, peptic ulcer and duodenal ulcer).

Respiratory system diseases and others (a few cases of anemia and skin diseases) were diagnosed relatively seldom in the EG (3.9% and 2.1%, respectively); and class 3/ 4 obesity was found in 1.7% of the EG. Furthermore, 9.0% of the EG was diagnosed with urinogenital diseases disorders with the highest incidence rate in the cyclic sports subgroup (15.2%), with the diseases dominated by pyelonephritis in the male subsample and adnexitis, fibroids and cervical erosion in the female subsample.

Conclusion. The disease rate in the EG was found significantly higher (р<0.01) than in the RG in terms of the overall chronic disease rate; cardiovascular system disease (hypertension, ischemic disease) rate; mental disease rate; behavioral/ CNS disorders (neuro-circulatory dystonia, neurosis, neurasthenia); endocrine imbalances (obesity) etc. The study data and findings need to be verified and supported by further studies to produce grounded health protection and rehabilitation recommendations for the elite athletes who opt for coaching careers upon retirement from sports.

References

  1. Kovalenko Yu.A. Problemy travmatologii v sovremennom sporte [Problems of traumatology in modern sports]. Teoriya i praktika fiz. kultury, 2006, no. 5, pp. 22-29.
  2. Lubysheva L.I. Sotsiologiya fizicheskoy kultury i sporta [Sociology of physical education and sports]. Moscow: Akademiya publ., 2001, 240 p.
  3. Saninskiy V.N. Sovremennye aspekty v organizatsii i provedenii mediko-biologicheskogo obespecheniya podgotovki sportsmenov sbornykh komand Rossii po olimpiyskim vidam sporta [Modern aspects in organization and implementation of biomedical follow-up of training process in Russian national teams in Olympic sports]. Professiya i zdorovye [Profession and health]. Proc. I nat. congress (Nov 19-21 2002). Moscow: Zlatograf publ., 2002, pp. 44-45.
  4. Yukelson D., Merfi Sh. Psikhologicheskie aspekty v profilaktike travm [Psychological aspects in injury prevention]. Sportivnye travmy. Osnovnye printsipy profilaktiki i lecheniya [Sports injuries. The basic principles of prevention and treatment]. Kiev: Olimpiyskaya literatura, 2002, pp. 281-287.
  5. Millet G.P., Candau R.B., Barbier B. et al. Modelling the transfers of training effects on performance in elite tri  Int. J. Sports Med., 2002. Vol. 23, N l. pp. 55-63
  6. Peers K., Lysens R. Patellar Tendinopathy in Athletes: Current Diagnostic and Therapeutic Recommendations. Sports Medicine.2005.no. 35(1), pp. 71-87.

Corresponding author: oskogan@mail.ru

Abstract

The study was designed to make a retired elite athletes’ health analysis based on and health examinations and chronic disease diagnoses. Sampled for the study purposes were representatives of cyclic, speed-strength-intensive, combat, high-coordination-intensive and team sports (n=233 including 164 males and 69 females) split up into Experimental Group (EG) of coaches with the prior careers in elite professional sports, with the top-ranking competitive experiences and accomplishments; and Reference Group (RG) of 31-45 year old amateur/ unqualified athletes, sport university graduates.

The disease rate in the EG was found meaningfully higher (р<0.01) than in the RG in terms of the overall chronic disease rate; cardiovascular system disease (hypertension, ischemic disease) rate; mental disease rate; behavioral/ CNS disorders (neuro-circulatory dystonia, neurosis, neurasthenia); endocrine imbalances (obesity) etc. The study data and findings need to be verified and supported by further studies to produce grounded health protection and rehabilitation recommendations for the elite athletes who opt for coaching careers upon retirement from sports.