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Olympic athletes hurt overtraining
Almost half the athletes who sought physio treatment in the London 2012 Olympics suffered injuries through overtraining, a study has revealed.
Competitors were most likely to suffer strains, tears and twists to a knee, the lower back or to the hamstrings or upper thigh, a review by a physiotherapist with the International Olympic Council (IOC) showed.
Dr Marie-Elaine Grant, of the Institute of Sport and Health at University College Dublin and an IOC official, said flair-ups of previous injuries show many athletes trained too hard or overused muscles.
"There is a lot of research on the psychological effects that intense competition can have on an athlete," she said.
"But in broad terms of course when athletes are under pressure and facing the biggest competition of their lives it's not that the injury is a psychological injury but due to the stress and desire to have the best performance of their life, and if there was something pre-existing, it's possible that will be the issue."
The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, revealed that 44% of athletes coming in for physio treatment for the first time in the Stratford Olympic village reported they had been overdoing it.
And almost half the athletes treated said they had pre-existing injuries.
The study could not identify the specific sports which were worst affected by injuries or the athletes involved but it showed that more of them came from Africa than anywhere else.
Dr Grant, who worked with the Olympic Council of Ireland and attended as team physio from games in Barcelona in 1992 up to Beijing 2008, said the most common injuries were soft tissue or muscle strain at 33%, while joint problems accounted for 24%, and tendons 12%.
She said the next step in examining the impact of athletes' injuries and need for physio would be to establish how injured athletes performed.
"We do not know the extent to which those pre-existing injuries and the overusing effected performance," she said.
"That's the next step - to try to evaluate outcomes by checking personal best measurements of athletes who sought physio treatment for injuries."