Connect with us

Fitness

Simple oral health steps help improve elite athletes’ performance

Elite athletes who adopted simple oral health measures, such as using high fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between their teeth, reported significantly reduced negative effects on performance related to poor oral health.

Published

on

Photo by @worthyofelegance from Unsplash.com

Elite athletes who adopted simple oral health measures, such as using high fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between their teeth, reported significantly reduced negative effects on performance related to poor oral health, finds a study led by UCL.

The new research, published in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, is the latest in a series of studies* led by the UCL Centre for Oral Health and Performance (COHP), based at UCL Eastman Dental Institute, which have found that elite athletes have substantial rates of oral disease**, including tooth decay and gum inflammation, and these symptoms negatively affected their wellbeing and sporting performance.

To help address this, researchers at UCL COHP designed a behavioural change programme aimed at better educating elite athletes about oral health and providing some simple interventions to improve their daily oral health routines.

Explaining the study, lead author, Dr Julie Gallagher (UCL Eastman Dental Institute), said: “Poor oral health of elite athletes is common and is associated with negative performance. However, compared with other health and training pressures, oral health care is not a high priority in elite sport.

“We therefore wanted to develop a programme which was aligned with the existing high-performance culture of the athletes and their teams. Underpinning the study was health behaviour psychology, which included education, self-motivation, goal setting, and an easy to use toolkit, ensuring the athletes had a readily available opportunity to improve.”

In total, 62 athletes from two Great Britain Olympic Teams, rowing and cycling, and one Premiership Rugby Club, Gloucester Rugby, were recruited to the study.

Athletes and support teams were asked to watch a 10-minute presentation which focussed on building motivation to improve oral health, and three 90-second information films, featuring GB rower Zak Lee-Green, which focussed on increasing oral health knowledge and skills to perform optimum oral health behaviour.

In addition, each athlete received an oral health screening to check for diseases such as caries (tooth decay) and gingivitis (gum inflammation). They were then given a bespoke follow up report with tailored advice and an oral health toolkit, containing a manual toothbrush, prescription fluoride toothpaste and flosspicks. As a minimum, they were also asked to brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day, to include brushing before training in the morning and before bed in the evening.

In total 89% of athletes completed the four-month study. On completion athletes were asked to fill in an oral health knowledge questionnaire, undergo a follow-up gingival (oral disease) assessment and evaluate the oral health kit.

Results

The study found that the behaviour change model was associated both with reductions in self-reported negative performance impacts and in improvements in oral health behaviours.

Athlete use of prescription strength fluoride toothpaste increased from 8 (12.9%) to 45 (80.4%), use of interdental cleaning aids at least two to three times per week increased from 10 (16.2%) to 21 (34%). Bleeding (gums) score remained unchanged. A desire to avoid inflammation in the body resulting from poor oral health was cited by 93% of athletes as the key motivator to make changes to their oral health routine. ]

Improvements in sporting performance were measured using the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center Overuse Injury Questionnaire (OSTRC-O), developed to monitor illness and injury in elite athletes. UCL COHP adapted the questionnaire to focus on oral health, asking the extent to which the oral health problem affected 1) sports participation, 2) training volume; 3) sporting performance; and 4) the extent to which the individual has experienced oral pain.

As a result of the behavioural change programme the mean OSTRC score across athletes reduced from 8.73 (out of 100) to 2.73, which while low at the outset, does indicate a statistically significant reduction in problems associated with oral health and sporting performance.

In addition the number (proportion) of athletes who reported a 0 (zero) score, meaning they had no negative sporting impact from oral health conditions, increased from 32 (51.6%) at baseline to 54 (98.2%) at the end of the study

Dr Gallagher added: “Through our previous research and focus group sessions, we established that athletes’ motivations for taking part in the study were both appearance and athletic performance, with many keen to avoid gum inflammation affecting other parts of their bodies, which can happen in serious cases.

“We believe that bringing behaviour change science together with an understanding of the athletes’ and teams’ priorities is key to making changes stick.” There are a number of reasons athletes are more likely to have poor oral health: physical activity causes a dry mouth, which in the long-term increases risk of tooth decay and gum diseases, along with frequent sugar intakes from normal diet and energy supplements.

Co-author and UCL Centre for Oral Health and Performance lead, Professor Ian Needleman, said: “To compete at the top level elite athletes need to make the most of marginal gains and maintaining good oral health has been proven to have real performance benefits.

“With so many other competing interests, such as training, nutrition, sleep and mental health, it is remarkable to see such great rates of adherence to the new routines in a high-performance environment.”

Zak Lee-Green, a member of the GB Rowing Team and a dentist who took part in the study, said: “As athletes we are acutely aware of the marginal gains required to achieve peak performance and maintaining good oral health is a prime example of an area often overlooked.

“This programme has gone a step further than showing the positive effect of excellent oral health on everyday life and has shown the potential benefits for improved performance, helping us reach the highest levels of sport. It can only be a step in the right direction if the sporting role models of the present and future are managing their oral health in the same way that they do their elite training.”

Dr Nigel Jones, Head of Medical Services at British Cycling, said: “The topic of oral health amongst athletes is an important one, especially as it can be linked to performance. My role with the Great Britain Cycling Team is to ensure the holistic well-being of our cyclists, and as oral health can have a big impact on immune function as well as being important in its own right, I wanted to support this project. The learnings which the riders took from the study have been invaluable and will be deployed across the whole team as we ramp up our preparations for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games next year.”

This behavioural change study was based on the COM-B model, which identifies sources of behaviour that could provide opportunities for intervention.

Capability (C) that is, the person having the physical skills and knowledge to perform the behaviour, Opportunity (O), that is, access to the necessary materials and social environment such that the person feels able to undertake the new behaviour, while Motivation (M) refers to a person deciding to adopt the behaviour

Researchers believe the bespoke model they have developed could be used for other health promotion needs in elite sport.

###

*Previous UCL studies

* Elite athletes have poor oral health despite brushing twice daily, published August 2019.

* High levels of oral disease among elite athletes affecting performance, published June 2018

* Better oral health for footballers is needed: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/eastman/news/2015/nov/new-research-better-oral-health-footballers-needed, published November 2015

* London 2012 athletes had ‘bad teeth’ https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/headlines/2013/sep/london-2012-athletes-had-bad-teeth, published September 2013

** In 2018 researchers at UCL COHP found nearly half (49.1%) of the athletes had untreated tooth decay, 77% had gingivitis, an early indicator of gum disease, and 39% self-reported having bleeding gums while cleaning their teeth, a sign of gum inflammation. Only 1.1% of the participants had ‘excellent’ periodontal health. In addition, more than a third (32%) reported that these conditions had impacted negatively on their sporting performance, along with their ability to eat (34.6%), relax and sleep (15.1%) and smiling and self-confidence (17.2%).

Zest Magazine accepts contributions promoting everything about living the good life (and how to make this so). C'mon, give us a yell.

Fitness

Study finds moderate-vigorous physical activity is the most efficient at improving fitness

Dedicated exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) was the most efficient at improving fitness. Specifically, exercise was three times more efficient than walking alone and more than 14 times more efficient than reducing the time spent sedentary. Additionally, they found that the greater time spent exercising and higher steps/day could partially offset the negative effects of being sedentary in terms of physical fitness.

Published

on

In the largest study performed to date to understand the relationship between habitual physical activity and physical fitness, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that higher amount of time spent performing exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) and low-moderate level activity (steps) and less time spent sedentary, translated to greater physical fitness.

“By establishing the relationship between different forms of habitual physical activity and detailed fitness measures, we hope that our study will provide important information that can ultimately be used to improve physical fitness and overall health across the life course,” explained corresponding author Matthew Nayor, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at BUSM.

He and his team studied approximately 2,000 participants from the community-based Framingham Heart Study who underwent comprehensive cardiopulmonary exercise tests (CPET) for the “gold standard” measurement of physical fitness. Physical fitness measurements were associated with physical activity data obtained through accelerometers (device that measures frequency and intensity of human movement) that were worn for one week around the time of CPET and approximately eight years earlier.

They found dedicated exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) was the most efficient at improving fitness. Specifically, exercise was three times more efficient than walking alone and more than 14 times more efficient than reducing the time spent sedentary. Additionally, they found that the greater time spent exercising and higher steps/day could partially offset the negative effects of being sedentary in terms of physical fitness.

According to the researchers, while the study was focused on the relationship of physical activity and fitness specifically (rather than any health-related outcomes), fitness has a powerful influence on health and is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and premature death. “Therefore, improved understanding of methods to improve fitness would be expected to have broad implications for improved health,” said Nayor, a cardiologist at Boston Medical Center.

Continue Reading

Fitness

Tips to avoid common running injuries

Injuries are very common among runners. Recent research estimates that 82% of runners will become injured during their running career and up to 90% will experience injury while training for a marathon. Some of the most common include a stress fracture, plantar fasciitis, hamstring tendinitis, ankle sprain, runners’ knee, and Achilles’ tendonitis.

Published

on

Photo by Malik Skydsgaard from Unsplash.com

Whether training for a marathon or preparing for your first community race, being knocked off course with pain can be hard to handle mentally and physically.

Injuries are very common among runners. Recent research estimates that 82% of runners will become injured during their running career and up to 90% will experience injury while training for a marathon. Some of the most common include a stress fracture, plantar fasciitis, hamstring tendinitis, ankle sprain, runners’ knee, and Achilles’ tendonitis.

Injury prevention is critical. Here are some safety tips from Dr. Joshua Blomgren, a 15-time Chicago Marathon team physician and sports medicine physician, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush:

Don’t over-train

Don’t increase weekly mileage or intensity by more than 10 percent each week. Build up slowly and let a good training schedule determine how much you run.

Invest in good shoes

Go to a specialty running shop to be properly fitted for running shoes and/or orthotics. Replace them every 350-500 miles. Incorrect shoes can affect your gait, leading to injuries in your feet, legs, knees, or hips.

Choose the best running surface

Look for running surfaces that absorb shock. Opt for asphalt over concrete. Find grass or dirt trails, especially for higher mileage. Avoid uneven surfaces and seek paths with slow curves.

Stretch!

Training causes tight muscles, leading to strain and changes in your gait. Commit to a stretching program. Just 5 -10 minutes after each workout can make a big difference.

Strengthen muscles

Runners have tight hip flexors because their quads are overtrained. Strengthen your hamstrings and glutes to reduce chance of injury and abductors, adductors, and core to create stability.

Watch out for heel striking

Heel striking occurs when your feet land in front of you and your heel hits the ground first. This is common among new runners but can lead to injuries such as shin splints, stress fractures, and joint pain. Land mid-sole with your foot directly underneath your body.

Prioritize posture

Good form means staying upright and keeping your shoulders back and relaxed. Work core exercises into your training and do posture checks every so often. Hold your head right above your shoulders and hips.

Continue Reading

Fitness

Postmenopausal women can dance their way to better health

After menopause, women are more likely to experience weight gain, overall/central body adiposity increases, and metabolic disturbances, such as increases in triglycerides and bad cholesterol. Together, these changes ultimately increase cardiovascular risk. Around this same time, women often are less physically active, which translates into reductions in lean mass and an increased risk of falls and fractures.

Published

on

Photo by Olivia Bauso from Unsplash.com

Women often struggle with managing their weight and other health risk factors, such as high cholesterol, once they transition through menopause. A new study suggests that dancing may effectively lower cholesterol levels, improve fitness and body composition and in the process, improve self-esteem. Study results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

After menopause, women are more likely to experience weight gain, overall/central body adiposity increases, and metabolic disturbances, such as increases in triglycerides and bad cholesterol. Together, these changes ultimately increase cardiovascular risk. Around this same time, women often are less physically active, which translates into reductions in lean mass and an increased risk of falls and fractures. As a result of all these changes, postmenopausal women often suffer from decreased self-image and self-esteem, which are directly related to overall mental health.

Physical activity has been shown to minimize some of the many health problems associated with menopause. The effect of dancing, specifically, has already been investigated with regard to how it improves body composition and functional fitness. Few studies, however, have investigated the effects of dance on body image, self-esteem, and physical fitness together in postmenopausal women.

This new study was designed to analyze the effects of dance practice on body composition, metabolic profile, functional fitness, and self-image/self-esteem in postmenopausal women. Although the sample size was small, the study suggested some credible benefits of a three-times-weekly dance regimen in improving not only the lipid profile and functional fitness of postmenopausal women but also self-image and self-esteem.

Dance therapy is seen as an attractive option because it is a pleasant activity with low associated costs and low risk of injury for its practitioners. Additional confirmed benefits of regular dancing include improvement in balance, postural control, gait, strength, and overall physical performance. All of these benefits may contribute to a woman’s ability to maintain an independent, high-quality lifestyle throughout her lifespan.

Study results are published in the article “Dance practice modifies functional fitness, lipid profile, and self-image in postmenopausal women.”

“This study highlights the feasibility of a simple intervention, such as a dance class three times weekly, for improving not only fitness and metabolic profile but also self-image and self-esteem in postmenopausal women. In addition to these benefits, women also probably enjoyed a sense of camaraderie from the shared experience of learning something new,” says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Like Us On Facebook

Facebook Pagelike Widget

Most Popular

Copyright ©FRINGE PUBLISHING. All rights reserved.