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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2020 Sep 03

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.20.11198-8


lingua: Inglese

A descriptive study on health, training and social aspects of adults that participated in ultra endurance running as youth athletes

Volker SCHEER 1 , Caio V. SOUSA 2, David VALERO 1, Beat KNECHTLE 3, 4, Pantelis T. NIKOLAIDIS 5, Encarna VALERO 6

1 Ultra Sports Science Foundation, Pierre-Bénite, France; 2 Bouve College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA; 3 Institute of Primary Care, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland; 4 Medbase St. Gallen Am Vadianplatz, St. Gallen, Switzerland; 5 Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Nikaia, Greece; 6 Vinalopo Hopsital, Elche, Spain


BACKGROUND: Ultra running is popular among youth athletes (< 19 years of age), with an exponential increase in participation over the last years. If running extreme distances during such a young age has implications in adulthood is currently unknown.
METHODS: We performed a retrospective survey study investigating adults that participated in ultra endurance running as youth athletes, describing running history, health and social data. Seventyeight participants (mean age of 38.0±12.0) completed the survey.
RESULTS: Most participants were male (83.3%), white Caucasians (92.3%), originated from the USA (89.7%), were married (57.7%), with no children (52.6%), and had a university degree (79.5%). Age at first ultra was 16.1 years (± 2.3), with an average number of 3.7 ultras (± 5.5), predominantly over 50 km (1.5 ± 3.3) and 50 miles (1.21 ± 2.0). Musculoskeletal injuries occurred in 23.1% of youth athletes, and stress fractures in 6.4%. The main reason to stop running ultras were injuries (28.6%). The majority (93.6%) of youth athletes continued running into adulthood; however only 26.9% continued running ultras. Training load was significantly (p<0.001) reduced from 57.4±33.2 km/w in youth athletes to 30.1±36.8 km/w in adulthood. High risk of exercise addiction was observed in 11.5%.
CONCLUSIONS: Most participants reported positive effects from running ultras as youth athletes (69.2%), but only 20.5% would recommend youth athletes participation in ultras. It may be prudent to be cautious about allowing general participation of youth athletes in ultra running until further evidence of its long-term effects on health and safety is available.

KEY WORDS: Ultramarathon; Adolescent; Children; Exercise addiction; Stress fracture; Injury

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