Experts say that professional sport does not damage health, as long as the athlete is properly guided by the trainer and regularly examined by sports medicine specialists.
“Proper training does not hurt even when it is very intensive, as long as the load is adequately selected and is properly arranged in time," tells Teresa Socha, Vice-President for Sports and Professor at the Physical Education Academy in Katowice.
In her opinion, a problem may appear when the trainer, the athlete, or the sponsors want too much success in too little time. – “In this case, the training burden is too much. Sometimes the professional career is extended, although it would be recommended to retire for health reasons. Performance enhancement, despite being reprehensible, is also present in professional sports, and may have a negative effect on health as well," she adds.
Socha also notes the considerable significance of regular and well-planned medical examinations.
“A professional athlete should undergo regular examinations by specialists of various medical fields, not just by his sports medicine physician. No signs presented by the athlete can be trivialised," she adds.
In her opinion, this was the case in the death of track and field athlete Kamila Skolimowska, which was caused by a congestion of the lung aorta caused by undiagnosed thrombosis.
According to Juliusz Dec, MD PhD, orthopaedist, physical activity is healthy, and exercise within reason is not harmful.
“Professional sports take the sportsperson’s system to its limits, although well-planned training distributed in time does not cross these limits, but considerably increases the person’s abilities," Dr Dec notes.
He notes that intensive burden of the motor system causes so-called wear lesions, which mainly concern the tendons, ligaments, and joint surfaces. These lesions are manifested by microdamage to the burdened tissue. “The human body has great regeneration capacity, but it is difficult with intensive effort – the body cannot keep up," he stresses.
E.g. ski jumping is very hard on the joints. An element to ensure the best distribution of the load during landing is the telemark, which is held in high esteem by the judges.
“I was very impressed by the silver medallist of the Olympic Games, Noriaki Kasai, who is over 40 years old and continues to be successful in such a demanding sport. This is an example of the combination of phenomenal endurance, training, and technique," Dr Dec states.
The largest group of patients – victims of sports – at the clinic in Żory is composed of football players and skiers. The particularly burdening disciplines include weight sports such as weightlifting, combat sports, and contact sports, which provide many opportunities for injuries from clashes with other players.
Injuries occur regardless of the technical and endurance preparation of the athlete. The recent injury of Jakub Błaszczykowski can serve as an example.
In the opinion of Dr Dec, the professionals are not as exposed to injuries as amateurs with inferior preparation who undertake extreme effort. As it turns out, the so-called tennis elbow, i.e. lateral epicondylitis, is not the most frequent injury of tennis players.
“If a tennis player should experience this injury, it would be due to inadequate training, equipment, or technique," Dr Dec notes.