The world of science is a fascinating place. When it comes to sport, science is used in many ways to enhance performance and to try and prevent injuries. With sport becoming more lucrative over time, it’s not only important for athletes to constantly break records, but also for investors to know that their team and investment is solid and has a bright future. Science opens new doors for us, with a world of new opportunities – especially when it comes to preventing injuries.
A recent article by Fast Company showed how sports teams want to reduce injuries by predicting them and if you look at the statistics behind it, it makes good sense. In America, NBA teams lost more than £217 million in 2013 alone and the LA Lakers took a hit of £27 million due to the injuries they sustained. Even in the NFL, where players enjoy a £1.3 million per month salary on average, starters missed more than 1,600 games for the 2013 season. It’s understandable that investors need to look at alternatives.
But in order to predict possible injuries, you do need data. Blood analysis makes it easy to get the data you need; it’s like opening a window to the inside of your body to see what your specific biochemical status is. The data gathered form blood samples that have been tested might indicated methods in which injuries can be prevented, and fewer injuries might mean more success for the team as a whole.
The Benefits of Blood Analysis
For many years, only professional athletes were able to do blood tests in order to measure their performance. It was unusual to do tests that were related to sport science and you only drew blood if your doctor thought that you might be seriously ill. These days however, technology allows anyone, from a coach to an athlete, the opportunity to do a blood test. This might even be done as a preventative measure to fix a problem before it became apparent.
Athletes are now able to get an answer to many health questions, like being tired constantly or not having the strength they need to improve their performance. It might be due to the lack of sufficient vitamins or even hormone imbalances, which a blood test can easily confirm. An athlete’s body is very sensitive toward any irregular changes and for an athlete’s body to be out of balance, can mean that they will have less strength, energy and stamina. Even a slight change in diet or lifestyle habits might have a big influence an athlete’s training ability.
Only a small amount of blood is necessary to get the relevant information. Biomarkers, which are the specific indicators that reveal the status of your body’s health, are present in the blood and can be measured to indicate the body’s biological state. Each biomarker represents a different function in the body and after they have been tested, doctors will know exactly what is going on inside an athlete’s body and what it needs to become stronger and healthier.
Which Biomarkers are Important?
Almost every professional sports team does a pre-season blood test but, ironically, it’s to screen for diseases, not for injuries and performance. Some biomarkers are easier to test for than others, but when a problem is detected in a blood test, it’s important to take action and plan an intervention strategy.
Your blood test must be personalised based on your age, ethnicity, gender, sports you perform and your activity level. This will allow you to have an improved range zone. A collection of biomarkers, called a panel, is done with each blood test and the ones that are usually tested include hormones, nutrition status and any sign of inflammation. When testing for vitamins, the result will show either an excess or a deficiency; hormones are more complicated to test for and the interpretation must be based on age, gender and the type of training program. When a test shows a problem, the necessary steps can be taken to rectify and prevent the issue at hand.
Studies are revealing just how important sleep patterns, training and diet programs are to our bodies. Therefore, blood tests should be seen as an opportunity to look deeper for possible issues that might cause us to underperform or worse, be on our way towards adverse health issues. In the world of sports, this means that we can now focus on moving our way to ultimate performance.
Gathering data from a simple blood test can mean the difference between a gold or silver medal for professional athletes, but even for non-athletic participants this insight might open a new opportunity to better understand our bodies and our symptoms than before, thus helping to prevent possible health problems in the future.