A study by Henny Solleveld on soccer players suggests that poor oral health increases the risk of sports injuries and muscle cramps. As soccer players run a lot during a match, these results are probably important for runners as well.
Sports injuries are common, not only between runners but also between soccer players. The risk factors can be intrinsic or extrinsic in nature. The extrinsic factors include interactions between players, and the intrinsic ones comprise health, previous injury, age, fitness, stress, anxiety…In this study, Henny Solleveld and her colleagues show that oral health should also be included in the intrinsic factors.
They questioned 184 premier league and 31 elite junior soccer players about re-injuries, muscular cramps, oral health, age, player position and psychosocial factors (stress and anxiety).
They noticed that poor oral health was associated with cramps and all kinds of injuries, even if they controlled for age, player position, diet or stress and anxiety.
Of course, it is not because there is an association between two factors that one leads to the other. There might be a third factor that leads independently to poor oral health and injuries, or it might just be a coincidence.
However, it is possible, as theoretically there is a mechanism. Poor oral health leads to an increased amount of inflammatory factors in your blood which make your muscles more easily fatigued and increase oxidative stress. Muscular fatigue puts you at a higher risk of injury as you lose good technique and as your coordination deteriorates. It can also lead to cramps.
This study is based on questionnaires and, as we all know, participants can get the answers wrong. Moreover, it is only a small study. It would therefore be good to see it repeated on larger groups. In the meanwhile, it is good idea to see your dentist regularly!
H Solleveld, A Goedhart and L Vanden Bossche. Associations between poor oral health and reinjuries in male elite soccer players: a cross-sectional self-report study. BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation 2015; 7:11. doi:10.1186/s13102-015-0004-y.
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