Find out why, at the peak of their athletic form, the body of athletes is most susceptible to various diseases and how to avoid a drop in immunity. Many sports fans have not yet forgotten the extremely unpleasant situation with the Russian biathlete Olga Vilukhina. The girl was preparing for the most important start of the fourth year, but was unable to participate in the individual race due to a cold. Olga herself believes that the culprit was the peak of the form, which she reached at that very moment.
Many parents strive to send their children to sports clubs, being confident that this will improve the health of their offspring. However, modern sport has changed significantly and no longer has anything to do with good health. Scientists are confident that now athletes have to experience four or even five times higher physical activity than it was ten years ago.
It should be remembered, however, that there is a tendency towards rejuvenation in many sports. Often, the body is simply not able to withstand huge loads, which leads to health problems. Today we will try to answer why athletes get sick at the peak of their sports form.
What happens to an athlete's body at peak fitness?
Not many sports fans are familiar with the "urgent sports maladjustment" syndrome. It was opened in the late eighties and is known mainly to sports doctors and trainers. Academician R. Suzdalnitsky, head of the laboratory of immunology at VNIIFK, was involved in this discovery. This man, in fact, is the founder of sports immunology. In a number of studies, he was able to prove and substantiate the fact that when reaching the peak of sports form, athletes are extremely susceptible to various ailments.
It's all about excessive physical exertion, which inhibits the work of the body's defense mechanisms. Academician Suzdalnitsky is confident that moderate physical activity has a positive effect on the functioning of the immune system. However, with their increase, a moment comes when the activity of the body's defense mechanisms is close to zero. This condition has been termed secondary sports immunodeficiency.
At this moment, the concentration of immunoglobulins and antibodies in the blood sharply decreases. As a result, the immune system is unable to cope even with common ailments of a cold nature. Most often, secondary sports immunodeficiency is manifested in professional athletes, but it is quite possible that it also develops in children. This leads to the following consequences:
- The disease can catch the athlete just before the start of the tournament.
- The results shown do not correspond to the true level of the athlete's training.
- The athlete does not tolerate acclimatization and jet lag.
- After heavy exertion, the body needs more time to recover.
- High fatigue increases the risk of injury.
Immunity: what is it?
To answer why athletes get sick at the peak of their sports form, it is necessary to understand the concept of "immunity". It may seem that there is nothing complicated here, but for many people, the immune system turns out to be the most mysterious throughout their lives. The immune system includes the appendix, thymus, spleen, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and tissues. In addition, the elements of the immune system include lymphatic tissue scattered in the mucous membranes of internal organs and various protein structures in the blood, for example, lymphocytes.
The central organs of the body's defense system are the bone marrow and thymus. It is they who synthesize lymphocytes. All other organs noted above are peripheral. Note that the average weight of all organs of the immune system is about one kilo. Let's take a look at how our defense system works. If, as an analogy, we compare the organism with the state, then immunity is a power structure that must provide reliable protection against the intrigues of various external factors.
The immune system synthesizes special cells - phagocytes (their name can be translated as "eaters of cells"), designed to destroy any foreign and unnecessary cellular structures. The last group includes all cells that have undergone mutations due to various circumstances. A similar task is performed by killer cells, which can even cope with cancer cells. T-helpers accelerate the synthesis of immunoglobulins, and T-suppressors perform the opposite task when it is required to stop the body's immune response.
Why does an athlete's immunity become weak at peak athletic form?
Let's look at the main causes of a weakened immune system in a person without congenital anomalies.
- Sleep disturbance. This may sound trite to some, but you need to devote enough time to sleep. For the body to be able to fully recover, it takes eight to nine hours of sleep. At the same time, it is important to pay attention to the quality of sleep, not quantity. If you sleep for a long time, but restlessly, then the body will not be able to recover. Athletes should be well aware that sleep is an important part of the training process. However, in addition to this, it has a great effect on the functioning of the immune system.
- Problems of modern civilization. It makes no sense to talk about this for a long time, everyone knows about it well - environmental problems, poor-quality food, bad habits, low physical activity, etc.
- Seasonal changes. A lack of sunlight, the need to withstand the cold, an insufficient amount of fresh high-quality products - all this leads to the fact that the body's reserves are depleted by spring.
- Stress. Another factor that everyone is familiar with. Often, problems with the work of the body's defense mechanisms are a reaction to stress. In addition, today scientists often associate a poor psycho-emotional state of a person with the development of such ailments as diabetes, tumor neoplasms, schizophrenia, and diffuse connective tissue diseases.
- Professional sports. This is what we are talking about today. The danger to the immune system is not the training itself, but the level of physical activity that the body experiences during training. It is not for nothing that today many novice athletes want to know why athletes get sick at the peak of their sports form?
Sport is a factor of secondary immunodeficiency
We have already spoken about this concept above, but more attention should be paid to it. In many ways, all the changes occurring in the organs of the immune system are associated with the duration and intensity of physical activity. In addition, it does not build to forget about the stress that accompanies the training of athletes. Moderate loads, according to scientists, are not capable of causing serious negative changes in the immune organs.
If the loads increase, then at first the body will respond to this by increasing the mass of lymphoid tissues, as well as accelerating immunopoietic reactions. The next stage of the body's response is called resistant and it can be characterized by an increase in the level of functioning of lymphoid tissues, as well as an increase in the concentration of immunoglobulins in the blood.
The resistance phase in duration is inversely related to the intensity of the loads. If the training is of an irregular nature, but at the same time has a high intensity, then the phase of resistance is not long and vice versa. Simply put, under the influence of moderate loads, the effectiveness of the immune system increases. If you are a beginner athlete, then do not try to set personal records in every lesson.
However, only sports fans who train for themselves and do not try to achieve sports heights can do this. What will be the reaction of the immune system to the excessive loads experienced by professional athletes. Scientists have found that at such moments, the mass of immune organs decreases, as does the number of lymphoid tissues.
At the same time, the concentration of immunoglobulins of type A, M and G in the blood decreases. This, in turn, leads to an increase in the body's susceptibility to various agents of an infectious nature. It is generally accepted that the decompression phase shows a breakdown in adaptation processes, depletion of the body's reserves and its entry into the stage of high immunological risk. During the competitive period, physical activity can increase tenfold in comparison with training. This leads to the fact that about 40 percent of athletes suffer from various infectious and colds.
The appearance of such immunodeficiency states in athletes allowed scientists to determine the main mechanisms of depletion of the body's reserves:
- The balance of hormonal substances is disrupted, which in turn leads to disruption of the physiological cycles of alternation of catabolic and anabolic processes.
- There are significant changes in the internal environment of the body, for example, an increase in the concentration of lactate and urea, a shift in the acidity index of pH, etc. As a result, the processes of disintegration of immunoglobulins are accelerated.
- Deficiency of nutrients associated with the need to adhere to a dietary nutrition program leads to a violation of the energy, substrate and plastic supply of the needs of the immune system.
- Slow permanent intoxication from foci of chronic ailments significantly reduces the potential for immunity.
How to avoid illness while in peak performance?
Since it is impossible to reduce physical activity in order to achieve high sports results, athletes have only one way out - immunomodulators. In medicine, herbal preparations belonging to this group are actively used. They are able to mobilize adaptive processes and increase the body's resistance to negative environmental conditions. Let's note the most popular adaptogens:
- Schisandra chinensis - has a positive effect on the functioning of the nervous and digestive systems. The drug should be taken once a day in the morning in the amount of 10-15 drops.
- Leuzea safflower - has mild anabolic activity and improves blood composition. Take 10 to 30 drops.
- Eleutherococcus - an excellent means of preventing ailments of a cold nature. You can take from 15 drops to one teaspoon.
- Ginseng - contains a large amount of biologically active substances glycosides. Take the drug on an empty stomach once a day in an amount of 10 to 40 drops.
- Rhodiola rosea - is considered one of the most powerful plant adaptogens. It is taken in the morning on an empty stomach in the amount of 5-10 drops.
For more information on the characteristics of the immune system in athletes, see the following video: