Sports is a wonderful thing. It brings people together and helps boost the health and mobility of those who play them. Sports gave careers to athletes and gave schools and whole countries pride. But for athletes — pro or not — too much sports can harbor hidden dangers.
It poses a risk for injury, which we all know. Every athlete has probably experienced breaking a bone at least once. But aside from that, some sports have higher risks for worse injuries, including career-ending ones. Even “safe” sports can have adverse health effects, and they can only be felt in the long term.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that sports should be discouraged. By all means, athletes should keep excelling in their chosen sport. But they should be reminded to strike a balance between health, safety, and playing. Athletes shouldn’t revolve their whole lives around sports, or the consequences may be dire.
That said, here are some negative effects of sports on your health:
Poor Oral Health
Sports activities can be considered a risk factor for different oral diseases and mouth injuries. Their risk for cavities is between 15% and 70%, 14% to 70% for dental trauma, 36% for dental erosion, 5% to 39% for pericoronitis, and 15% for periodontal disease.
Disorders in the oral cavity can impact an athlete’s performance and quality of life. Not only can their activities injure their mouth, but their rigorous training can also affect their salivary flow. A reduction in the salivary flow rate can decrease one’s organism’s defenses, increasing their risks for oral health issues as a result.
Hence, athletes should always wear their mouthguards if their sports require them to. They should regularly visit their dentists as well. An experienced orthodontist can help them find solutions to mouth injury risks associated with their sport. They can also treat severe oral diseases and injuries and have the athlete playing again in no time.
It seems contradictory for sports to cause muscle weakness. After all, almost all athletes have more muscle mass than an average person. But excessive running, in particular, turns out to result in muscle weakness in the long term.
Runners who overtrain may increase their risks for plantar fasciitis, an inflammation that causes sharp pain near the base of the heel. This inflammation results from weakened muscles in the foot, which happens due to overtraining and forgoing rest. It can also occur from improper form. As such, runners should always wear supportive insoles and stretch regularly. It would avoid pain and lower their risks for inflammation.
Weakened Immune System
Excessive running poses another risk: the weakened immune system. Running should be done in moderation, like any other physical activity. Do too much of it, and the immune system can get tired. It would be suppressed, increasing a runner’s risk for frequent illness.
Flu-like symptoms, aching muscles or connective tissue, and depression could be results of overtraining, according to celebrity fitness trainer Harley Pasternak. To avoid these, runners should dedicate adequate time for rest and sleep in between training periods. If runners experience trouble sleeping, that could be a sign that they’re overtraining. And bad sleep quality can worsen their mood swings and depression symptoms. So they should cut their physical activity time and allow themselves to rest until their muscles have fully recovered.
If an athlete’s mouth can be injured by a sport, then any part of their head, including their brain, is vulnerable, too. Some sports have brought more kids to the E.R. than others. Between 2010 and 2016, emergency rooms in the U.S. had tended to almost 2 million children and teens due to sports-related brain injuries. That was an average of 283,000 E.R. visits per year.
Football, cycling, basketball, soccer, and even playground activities were the sports and activities found to result in the highest E.R. visits due to traumatic brain injury (TBI). Other contact sports, like lacrosse, ice hockey, and wrestling, have increased risks for TBI as well. To reduce these risks, players should limit their contact with other players, and if a concussion (impact on the head or body) occurs, timely diagnosis and treatment are crucial.
If the risks have frightened you, don’t worry; athletes are trained to avoid injury as much as possible. Still, the heat of a game can raise adrenaline and make some athletes a little reckless. If you’d rather stay on the safe side but still enjoy sports, consider table tennis, golf, swimming, or any other sport without much player-to-player contact. But still, train in healthy amounts. Resting for a whole day won’t weaken your muscles and derail your progress. Again, strike a balance between your health, safety, and sport. You can’t play if your body has already given up.