Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Coaches and the Female Athlete Triad

There are awkward conversations some coaches avoid having with their female athletes. One of these discussions may be about the menstrual cycle, especially by male coaches. This awkwardness can be avoided by educating your athletes on the Female Athlete Triad.
The three clusters of the triad are:
  • Disordered Eating (poor nutrition),
  • Menstrual dysfunction (irregular or loss of period), and
  • Osteoporosis (low bone density)
Athletes should be educated on proper eating habits to maintain or balance the use of energy when training, as to prevent low-energy availability. The low-energy availability and excessive exercise can lead to a lack of estrogen causing amenorrhea (loss of period) or menstrual irregularities. A lack of estrogen, and poor nutrition (especially calcium) can lead to the third cluster, osteoporosis.

As coaches, the main focus should be on disordered eating, as this leads to the next two clusters. Women face many pressures these days to look a certain way, or have a certain body-type. For serious female endurance athletes, the pressures of training can produce the mind set of, “If I lose 5lbs, I can run faster.” These pressures can very easily lead an athlete into poor eating habits.

For more information on this topic please check the SIRC collection.
Female Athlete Triad Coalition

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