Training Load Capacity, Cumulative Risk, and Bone Stress Injuries: A Narrative Review of a Holistic Approach

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Frontiers in Sports and Active Living


Bone stress injuries (BSIs) are a common orthopedic injury with short-term, and potentially long-term, effects. Training load capacity, influenced by risk factors, plays a critical role in the occurrence of BSIs. Many factors determine how one's body responds to repetitive loads that have the potential to increase the risk of a BSI. As a scientific community, we have identified numerous isolated BSI risk factors. However, we have not adequately analyzed the integrative, holistic, and cumulative nature of the risk factors, which is essential to determine an individual's specific capacity. In this narrative review, we advocate for a personalized approach to monitor training load so that individuals can optimize their health and performance. We define “cumulative risk profile” as a subjective clinical determination of the number of risk factors with thoughtful consideration of their interaction and propose that athletes have their own cumulative risk profile that influences their capacity to withstand specific training loads. In our narrative review, we outline BSI risk factors, discuss the relationship between BSIs and training load, highlight the importance of individualizing training load, and emphasize the use of a holistic assessment as a training load guide.



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