Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Friday, October 14, 2011

Steroid use and injury

When I first started working at Drug Free Sport, I read Dan Clark’s book, “Gladiator: A True Story of ‘Roids, Rage, and Redemption”. I have to admit I learned a lot about the effects of steroid use from his story. We often warn student-athletes of the dangers of steroid use, breast development in men, acne, aggressiveness, etc., but reading about them in first person was an eye-opening experience. It was also from this book that I was first introduced to the link between steroid use and injury, something I think many people often overlook. As an athlete, this link is essential, because one injury could derail your career.
So what is the link between steroids and injury and why should you be concerned? Often the increase in muscle mass and increased speed, seen from steroid use, is not always followed by equal increases in tendon, ligament, and joint strength. These imbalances, along with rapid weight gain, increase the risk of injuries. Explosive movements already put an athlete at risk for injury, but can be made worse when the supporting elements around muscles aren’t trained or ready for these movements at such high speeds with so much muscle mass.

A study published in 2009, by The American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, found that self reported anabolic-androgenic steroid use was significantly associated with self-reported, medically diagnosed joint and cartilaginous injuries in comparison to non-users. These injuries included; disc herniations, knee ligament/meniscus injury, elbow injuries, stingers, spine injury, and foot/toe/ankle injury. It has also been suggested that the increase of tendon and ligament injuries in baseball is due to steroid use. Read more.

While more research is needed, the link between steroid use and injury is another risk added to a long list adverse effects.


Self-Reported Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids Use and Musculoskeletal Injuries: Findings from the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes Health Survey of Retired NFL Players. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: March 2009 - Volume 88 - Issue 3 - pp 192-200




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