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Genetics and sport injuries

Sports injuries

Injuries are one of the major concerns of athletes, since, regardless of the sport they practice, they are exposed to them. Many times the media echo that certain sports figures continually relapse from the same injury, but why does this happen?

The truth is that the type of sport we practice, the level at which we do it, our physiology and our habits influence the possibility of suffering an injury, but it is also true that we are all marked by our genetics, which plays a really crucial role in the predisposition to certain injuries. However, the good news is that by knowing our genetics, we can change our training routines and keep our risk of injury under control. Not only elite athletes should be concerned about this aspect, but it is a risk that can affect anyone, since almost all of us, to a greater or lesser extent, exercise, either going to the gym or practicing a sport for leisure, and, in addition, we can also suffer an injury in everyday life.

With a simple saliva sample, we can find out if we are prone to certain muscle injuries, knee, tendon, ligament or even bone breaks. In this way, we can establish personalized training plans to help us strengthen these parts of the body and minimize risks. For example, a person with a greater predisposition to suffer ruptures of the Achilles tendon can be helped by specific exercises such as heel raises, balance exercises or calf stretches, which help to tone it.

 

Genetics and sport

This type of test also helps to know which sports are more convenient for us to practice or, on the contrary, which ones we should avoid, since, if your genetics say that you have an increased risk of shoulder dislocation, it would be best to avoid practicing certain sports such as rugby, boxing or tennis, in which this part of the body plays a decisive role and is very exposed to damage. This type of injury is particularly uncomfortable because it must be treated with complete immobilization of the shoulder, using a sling, which hinders the normal course of our daily routines [1]. Another similar injury, which not only causes pain but also discomfort is the rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament, very frequent in high-impact sports, such as soccer or basketball; sports that involve jumping, such as skiing or artistic gymnastics; or sports in which abrupt changes of direction are made, such as handball or indoor soccer [2]. This injury requires surgery in most of the occasions, and requires a very long recovery time (between 6-8 months generally), together with the impossibility to mobilize the knee. In this process the sporting rhythm is totally lost, it is not uncommon to gain weight due to inactivity and lose muscle mass. However, there is no need to panic, genetics is not a determining factor, only a special predisposition, and by following a good training routine according to your particular needs, you can practice these sports without being destined to suffer an injury.

 

Muscle injuries

Our sports genetic test includes extensive information on the risk of certain injuries, among which are sports muscle injuries, which are the most common in all areas of sport, including contusions, contractures, strains and fiber ruptures. These injuries do not necessarily have to be serious, but they can mean an absence from sports activities and the need to rest. When they occur frequently, and especially if they are not treated correctly, they can cause greater damage to the affected area, leading to weakening and, as a consequence, an increase in the frequency of this type of injury, even becoming chronic. This can not only wear down the physical health, but also the mental health of the sufferer. When the pathology worsens, it may require the help of a physiotherapist, osteopathic treatments and sometimes even surgery [3], which sometimes involve not only an investment of time but also of money.

 

Meniscus tear

Another example is the risk of meniscus tear, which is very common in both athletes and non-athletes, as it can occur with a bad fall or a strong impact on the knee. If there is a predisposition to this pathology, there are sports such as those that have a direct impact on the knees, among which is the long jump, or sports where an excessive load falls on the knees such as weightlifting or long distance running on hard surfaces, which it is advisable to avoid, or at least perform cautiously. The meniscus tear is a painful injury, but depending on the degree of injury it is possible to live with it, since sometimes there are people who tear the meniscus but can continue their normal life without making great efforts with the knee [4]. If a person wishes to have a lifestyle without discomfort or limitations, it is common to have to undergo surgery and a rehabilitation process, which may not only be influenced by factors such as the outcome of the surgery, the condition of the joint, physical fitness or age of the patient, but may also be influenced by the genetics of each individual, since there is a correlation between genetics and how the recovery after meniscus surgery may be. Specifically, studies confirm that a variation in the GDF5 gene is an influential factor in the recovery process and in achieving greater knee stability after surgery.

 

Optimize your sports practice with 24Genetics

Our tests provide information on predispositions to sports injuries, but we also have a nutrigenetics test to complement and contribute to the prevention of injuries through an appropriate diet based on genetics. For example, to avoid broken bones, a diet rich in calcium and some vitamins such as vitamin D is advisable. That is why, when it comes to avoiding injuries, it is advisable to make an exhaustive examination on genetic predispositions, since they will not only help you to enjoy sport more, but you will do it in a healthier and more beneficial way.

Genetics not only defines us, but also guides us to improve our health and prevent us from suffering injuries while exercising. That is why it is of vital importance to be aware of the importance of knowing ourselves to avoid going through situations of pain, discomfort and frustration. From 24Genetics, we encourage you to take our sports test in which you can find information about your genetic predisposition to suffer from cruciate ligament rupture or skeletal muscle inflammation among many other injuries, as well as much more valuable information for sports enthusiasts, such as types of training, predisposition to the performance of certain skills or influence of the practice of sport in various biomarkers or in the functioning of the heart. And with our nutrition test you can complement the improvement of your training with a diet that fits your needs. 24Genetics helps you understand your genetics to reach new goals and avoid obstacles on the road to victory.

 

Bibliography

[1] Dislocated shoulder: Medlineplus en Español (no date) MedlinePlus. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/spanish/dislocatedshoulder.html.

[2] Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury: Medlineplus Enciclopedia Médica (no date) MedlinePlus. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/spanish/ency/article/001074.htm.

[3] Sports muscle injuries (no date) GRUPO CLÍNICA O BURGO. Available at: https://www.clinicaoburgo.es/lesiones-musculares-deportivas/.

[4] Post-Treatment Care – Meniscus Ruptures: Medlineplus Enciclopedia Médica (no date) MedlinePlus. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/spanish/ency/patientinstructions/000684.htm.

Written by Debora Pino García

Geneticist

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