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The purpose of this website is to protect the health of athletes and dancers enabling them to perform to their full potential. As knowledge and understanding of RED-S develops through research and clinical practice, this website will be updated to provide the most current information on the identification, clinical risk assessment and management of RED-S and return-to-play guidelines.
RED-S is a condition caused by low energy availability, where nutritional intake is insufficient to cover the energy demands of both exercise training and bodily processes. This situation of low energy availability can have adverse effects on many biological systems, such as menstrual function (periods), endocrine system (hormones), musculoskeletal (bone and muscle), gastrointestinal (digestive), cardiovascular system (heart and circulation), immune function and growth and development. As a result of these changes to physical functioning, many aspects of sport and dance performance may be negatively affected, including decreased response to training, impaired co-ordination and increased injury risk. Likewise, there may be psychological effects that either cause, or are the result of RED-S.
Exercisers/athletes/dancers with low energy availability may experience a variable selection and/or varying degrees of the health and performance consequences of RED-S. Everyone responds slightly differently to low energy availability and depending on the extent, duration and timing when this relative energy deficiency occurs. Low energy availability can arise unintentionally with increased training loads not matched by increased nutrition intake, or intentionally in sports/dance where low body weight confers an athletic or aesthetic performance advantage.
Who is at risk?
- Male and female dancers
- Male and female athletes in gravitational sports: cyclists, runners, triathletes, climbers, XC skiers, ski jumpers
- Male and female athletes in aesthetic sports: rhythmic and artistic gymnasts, ice skaters, divers, synchronised swimmers
- Male and female weight category sports: light weight rowers, boxers, martial arts, jockeys
- All males and females who exercise/dance and have low energy availability
The origins of the RED-S model described by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2014, stem from the established Female Athlete Triad. Evidence emerged that the impact of low energy availability is not limited to the reproductive and bone health of female athletes, as in the female athlete triad. So RED-S evolved to include effects of low energy availability on multiple aspects of health and performance. Furthermore, the RED-S model acknowledges that these potential extensive consequences of low energy availability can impact males as well as females, and equally all ages and levels of exerciser, athlete or dancer from recreational to elite.
Sports Injury Bulletin, Dr N Keay, Sport and Dance Endocrinologist writes: RED-S can occur in athletes of all ages and…