Author: Andrea Mooney

Want to run the Boston Marathon one day? Play it safe with your health, ladies

If running a marathon were easy, we’d all be doing it. In reality, it takes incredible mental endurance and physical dedication paired with a strong desire to succeed. But if you really want to go the distance, don’t put your body at risk by overtraining.

Female athletes, especially those who participate in sports that emphasize being lean—like running—can be susceptible to the female athlete triad, an interrelationship of bone health, menstrual cycle and energy availability (caloric balance and nourishment).

Most of the time, female athletes get enough quality calories to maintain healthy energy availability, normal monthly menstrual cycles and healthy bone density. However, some runners, who might feel pressure to be as lean as possible, take in fewer calories than their body requires. This can result in irregular (or loss of) periods and changes in hormones, which can lead to low bone density and an increase in fractures and osteoporosis.

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Endometriosis isn’t curable, but it doesn’t have to be such a pain.

Having painful cramps isn’t really something a typical 14-year-old girl wants to think or talk about. Most girls assume that it’s normal and just part of the process of growing up. But when intense pain started to interrupt Brittany Berg’s social and academic life, she knew she needed to speak up.

It began during her freshman year of high school when the pain would get so bad she couldn’t focus while she studied at night. She’d lie down, hoping for sleep, but would still be overcome with discomfort. The only female in her drum line at school, Brittany couldn’t easily explain to her bandmates why she was a little slower on some days, or why the pressure of holding the drum caused even more pain.

She tried her best to explain to her friends what she was going through, hoping they could relate, but since she didn’t understand it herself, it made little difference.

Finally, Brittany talked to her mother and saw a doctor. She had a pelvic ultrasound and was prescribed birth control pills, which are often used to regulate a women’s menstrual cycle. However, this treatment only added mild depression and weight gain to Brittany’s list of irritating symptoms. Frustrated, and still not knowing the root of her pain, Brittany tried another type of birth control pill that her doctor prescribed, one that is taken every three months instead. Even though the pain lessened a little, it was still there.

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Beating the odds: After three knee injuries, a female athlete triumphs

Krista

There is a special kind of female athlete who is so dedicated that her sport becomes her life. Because research shows that girls and women are prone to higher rates of injuries and other health complications, these female athletes require a level of dedication not only to their sports, but also to their long-term health. And by pairing the two, they prevail.

For Krista Pinciaro, soccer player at Medfield High School, dedication to the sport came naturally. But when she tore her medial meniscus and re-tore her lateral meniscus (after tearing both her meniscus and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) years before), she knew her senior-year soccer season was at stake.

“It was one of the worst days of my life,” says Krista. “Soccer isn’t just a sport to me, it’s my everything. It made me feel like I belonged to something, and it made me succeed academically because I knew I had to in order to keep playing. My teammates and my coaches were all like members of my family. Not playing was devastating for me.”

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For patients in the OWL Program, joining a rowing team makes all the difference

The OWL team rowing at Agganis Arena

When it comes to achieving a healthy weight, nutrition is only one part of the process. Adding exercise to the mix helps build heart health and strength, and—perhaps of equal importance—it also helps build self-confidence.

While regular exercise is paramount, it’s not always easy for a teenager to join their high school’s competitive teams to stay in shape. “It’s hard to tell a kid to join something like soccer if they’ve never done it before, and their peers have been doing it since they were toddlers,” says Sarah Picard, MA, Med, physical activity specialist at Boston Children’s Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Program.

This year with the help of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center, Picard created a solution to that problem, and established OWL on the Water—a joint program with Community Rowing Inc. that allows OWL patients to form an exclusive rowing team, thereby providing habitual exercise and promoting teamwork.

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