Overtraining and Osteoporosis
How Can I Tell if Someone I Know, Train With, or Coach May Be at Risk for Bone Loss, Fracture, and Other Health Problems?
Here are some signs to look for:
- missed or irregular menstrual periods
- extreme and/or "unhealthy-looking" thinness
- extreme or rapid weight loss
- behaviors that reflect frequent dieting, such as: eating very little, not
eating in front of others, trips to the bathroom following meals, preoccupation
with thinness or weight, focus on low-calorie and diet foods, possible increase
in the consumption of water and other no- and low-calorie foods and beverages,
possible increase in gum chewing, limiting diet to one food group or
eliminating a food group
- frequent intense bouts of exercise (e.g., taking an aerobics class, then
running five miles, then swimming for an hour, followed by weight-lifting,
- an "I can’t miss a day of exercise/practice" attitude
- an overly anxious preoccupation with an injury
- exercising despite illness, inclement weather, injury and other conditions
that might lead someone else to take the day off
- an unusual amount of self-criticism and/or self-dissatisfaction
- indications of significant psychological or physical stress, including:
depression, anxiety or nervousness, inability to concentrate, low levels of
self-esteem, feeling cold all the time, problems sleeping, fatigue, injuries,
talking about weight constantly.
How Can I Make Needed Changes to Improve My Bone Health?
If you recognize some of these signs in yourself, the best thing you can do
is to make your diet more healthful, and that includes consuming enough
calories to support your activity level. It’s best to check with a doctor to
make sure your missed periods aren’t a sign of some other problem and to get
his or her help as you work toward a more healthy balance of food and exercise.
Also, a doctor can help you take steps to protect your bones from further
What Can I Do if I Suspect a Friend May Have Some of These Signs?
First, be supportive. Approach your friend or teammate
carefully and be sensitive. She probably won’t appreciate a lecture about how
she should be taking better care of herself. But maybe you could share a copy
of this publication with her or suggest that she talk to a trainer, coach, or
doctor about the symptoms she’s experiencing.