Training-Related Risk of Common Illnesses in Elite Swimmers over a 4-yr Period

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Abstract

Purpose

The objective of this study is to investigate the relation between sport training and the risk of common illnesses: upper respiratory tract and pulmonary infections (URTPI), muscular affections (MA), and all-type pathologies in highly trained swimmers.

Methods

Twenty-eight French professional swimmers were monitored weekly for 4 yr. Training variables included 1) in-water and dryland intensity levels: low-load, high-load, resistance, maximal strength, and general conditioning training (expressed as the percentage of the maximal load performed by each subject, at each intensity level over the study period); and 2) training periods: moderate, intensive, taper, competition, and postcompetition. Illnesses were diagnosed by a sports physician using a standardized questionnaire. Mixed-effects logistic regression analyses were used to model odds ratios for the association between common illnesses and training variables, adjusted for sport season, semiseason (summer or winter), age, competition level, sex, and history of recent events, whereas controlling for heterogeneity among swimmers.

Results

The risk of common illnesses was significantly higher in winter months, for national swimmers (for URTPI), and in cases of history of recent event (notably for MA). The odds of URTPI increased 1.08 (95% CI, 1.01–1.16) and 1.10 (95% CI, 1.01–1.19) times for every 10% increase in resistance and high-load trainings, respectively. The odds of MA increased by 1.49 (95% CI, 1.14–1.96) and 1.63 (95% CI, 1.20–2.21) for each 10% increase in high load and general conditioning training, respectively. The odds of illnesses were 50%–70% significantly higher during intensive training periods.

Conclusion

Particular attention must be paid to illness prevention strategies during periods of intensive training, particularly in the winter months or in case of the recent medical episode.

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