Could it be that COVID-19 restrictions “detrained” elite athletes, resulting in higher incidence of injury after the return to large-scale sport events? Brock Associate Professor of Kinesiology Nicole Chimera is working to find out.
Detraining occurs when workouts, coaching and other training activities are reduced or stopped, typically due to illness or injury.
“During the pandemic, there was this holding pattern where people were in a lockdown and there was no training happening in athletes’ typical training environments for quite an extended period of time,” says Chimera, who was recently awarded a Canada Games Grant through the University to dive deeper into the subject.
“With such detraining, we could potentially see greater incidence of muscle strains, musculoskeletal injuries, and tendon and ligament injuries, among others,” she says.
One of eight researchers awarded funding under the third round of the VPR Canada Games Grants program, Chimera will use her funding to investigate the impacts of detraining by comparing historical rates of injury and illness occurring during Canada Games held from 2009 to 2019 with injury and illness rates occurring during the Canada Games competitions occurring later this year.
The VPR Canada Games Grants program is a special fund that enables Brock University researchers and scholars from all across campus to undertake research or a creative activity in any discipline and on any topic that relates to the Canada Games.
Researchers and scholars can receive up to $7,000 funding for their proposals.
Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon calls the Canada Games “a remarkable research opportunity” that increases understanding not only of the sport event itself but also the history, cultures and communities that encompass the Games.
“I’m excited that Brock researchers have seized this opportunity to build bridges with the Niagara community as they pursue their innovative, creative projects,” he says.
Chimera says her research will help Canada Games officials, provincial and regional level athletic therapists, physiotherapists, and strength and conditioning professionals identify increased injury occurrence, and perhaps risk, that limited training opportunities pose for athletes’ health.
Chimera points to recent studies showing that athletes in an elite German soccer league were more than three times more likely to sustain a musculoskeletal injury during competition following the COVID-19 lockdown, and a four-fold increase in Achilles tendon injuries sustained during the National Football League’s training camp and preseason following its three-month lockout in 2011.
Recipients of the 2021-22 VPR Canada Games Grants are:
- Corliss Bean: Exploring Female Sport Leaders’ Journeys to the Canada Games Using Digital Storytelling.
- Nicole Chimera: Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Injuries and Illnesses in Canada Games Competitions.
- Kim Gammage: Focusing on the positives: A test of the embodiment model of positive body image in elite athletes.
- Nota Klentrou: Dietary energy intake, energy balance, nutrition knowledge and supplement use among youth athletes participating in the 2022 Canada Games.
- Dawn Trussell: Where’s Mom? Investigating the Intersection of Motherhood and the Under-representation of Women in Coaching through a Major Games Event.
- Adam Kanar: Competency Awareness and Articulation in 2022 Canada Games Volunteers.
- Yifeng Li: Sport AI Enabled by Multi-Agent Deep Reinforcement Learning Approaches.
- Diane Mack: Prioritizing Mental Health: An Investigation of Canadian Olympic Sport Organizations.
This is the third year the VPR Canada Games Grants program is being offered, with 11 researchers also announced last year.
The Canada Games is expected to bring more than 5,000 athletes from across the country to Niagara from Aug. 6 to 21 to compete in 18 sports.