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Sport performance is highly dependant on health, skill related components of fitness, technique in sport specific skills and body composition. This is because our body composition can contribute to elements including strength power, speed and agility. Quantifying body composition has played an important role in monitoring an athlete’s performance and training regimes where body composition is used to guide training and nutritional interventions to improve performance.
There are a variety of techniques to assess body composition and the right method depends on various factors including accuracy, reliability, expense, portability, invasiveness and technical expertise. Coast Sport, the leading providers of a multidisciplinary allied health practice, a leading provider of world class integrated healthcare services and sports performance uses Subcutaneous Skinfold Thickness (Skinfolds) and Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) to assist athletes and the general population meet their goals and potential. These two methods will be discussed in more detail below.
Skinfolds are the routine monitoring of body fat and distribution among athletes across state academies and institutes of sport in Australia. They are taken at various anatomically identified sites on the body at seven sites (triceps, subscapular, biceps, supraspinale, abdominal, front thigh and medial calf) which are chosen to account for individual variation in body fat distribution. This is referred to as the skinfold sum and there are set ranges ideal for different sports and player positions that ideally enhance playing capabilities.
These measurements are usually in conjunction with body mass and waist circumference to provide an insight into body fat and muscle mass. It is best to have skinfold measurements taken by the same trained practitioner throughout a season or training period to provide greater accuracy. Most sports dietitians will have specialised training in anthropometry (ISAK qualification) and can also guide dietary changes to alter your body composition to help maximise your performance without negative side effects. Skinfold measurements can be used by athletes and coaches to assess the effectiveness of training and guide targeted personalised training or nutrition programs.
DEXA is the gold standard in measuring body composition as it enables to see a breakdown of everything that contributes to your overall weight and make appropriate adjustments to better health outcomes and performance. As our bodies are made up of muscle, organ tissue, fat, fluid and bone weight, a DEXA scan can measure these elements with 99% accuracy.
Before a DEXA scan you should wear loose clothing without any zippers or buttons made of metal. When getting are required to lay down in a standardised position and the body is admitted to a low dose of radiation to provide images of the inside of the body, however the dose is so low that it is ¼ of what you could receive when travelling in an aeroplane. DEXA scans are also great for people who are at risk of various chronic diseases including osteoporosis as bone density is measured, this can also assist athletes who may be at risk of bone fractures. Having a DEXA scan is a great way to get even more personalised dietary assistance from a Sports Dietitian to increase performance while supporting overall health and wellbeing.
When thinking about what type of anthropometry assessment is best for you there are a few things to consider which can be viewed in the table below.
In summary body composition is an important heath and performance variable that can be useful in both team and individual athletes. A Sports Dietitian has the expertise to administer and/or determine the results of your body composition results which can help you enhance your health and sport performance during training and events. If you want to find out how these services can benefit you book online or call on 4356 2588 to take enhance your sporting performance today!
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