Many female athletes are at increased risk of bone stress injuries and fractures due to a condition called "female athlete triad", says a new research.
Female athlete triad refers to combinations three symptoms - low energy, menstrual irregularities and low bone mineral density. The condition affects non-athletes too, said lead author of the study Dr Elizabeth Matzkin an orthopedic surgeon.
"Low energy availability can be thought of as not eating enough to replace the calories expended from exercise, either through a lack of nutritional knowledge or as a result of an eating disorder. The decreased energy availability leads to menstrual irregularities, which then causes decreased bone mineral density that can ultimately result in osteopenia/osteoporosis," said Matzkin.
The researchers found that having one just one of three symptoms was associated with a 15 to 21 percent chance of developing a bone stress injury.
Two symptoms increases the chances to between 21 and 30 percent and the presence of all three symptoms increases the chances of bone stress injury to between 29 and 50 percent.
The symptoms of female athlete triad are usually the result of poor nutrition. "It is important for young females to maximize their bone density until about the age of 25, anything lost before then cannot be regained. After age 25 we can only hope to maintain what we have," said Matzkin.
The study is published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.