The Female Athlete Triad is a term for a group of three conditions that commonly occur together, especially prevalent in young female athletes in endurance (ie. running) or dancing sports. Over-training, poor nutrition, genetic, and psychosocial factors can contribute.
The 3 components of the Female Athlete Triad are:
1) Menstrual dysfunction– irregular periods or amenorrhea (no periods)
2) Low energy availability (*sometimes with disordered eating)
3) Low Bone Mineral Density
This triad of conditions is a problem because it can increase the risk of overuse injuries such as stress fractures. It also usually leads to reduced performance in the sport due to injury or low energy levels. It is a complicated condition that requires a multidisciplinary treatment approach including nutrition/dietetics, counseling/psychology, physical therapy, and physicians.
How Can Physical Therapy Help?
At React Physical Therapy, we often see patients who have already suffered an overuse injury. In that case, we can guide rehabilitation and return to sport (if/when appropriate), and address impairments and risk factors in order to prevent re-injury. In the general female athlete population, our goal is ideally to recognize warning signs and focus on prevention by educating young female athletes and building healthy, sport-ready bodies and minds.
-Johanna Diamond, PT, DPT
Nazem TG, Ackerman KE. The female athlete triad. Sports Health. 2012;4(4):302–311. doi:10.1177/1941738112439685