The health risks from bodybuilding can be serious.
The Farnese Hercules statue sits in Naples' National Archaeological Museum. In 1893, Eugen Sandow tried to imitate Hercules' famous pose for a photo shoot. That was a critical moment in the history of bodybuilding. Since then, athletes have tried to mold their bodies into an aesthetic created by the Greeks 2,500 years ago. There are many advantages in practicing this sport. You can improve your strength and enhance your skill. You can also earn a living. But, there are disadvantages as well.
Be Aware of Discrimination
Subjectivity plays a greater role in judgment-based sports like bodybuilding. The organizers of this sport instruct judges to decide which competitor has the most well-balanced set of muscles. Yet, there's a human being attached to those muscles throughout a competition. Participants have different facial features and skin colors. They also represent different genders and ages. These factors shouldn't affect the participants' aesthetic scores. However, a June 2018 dissertation from the University of Gothenburg lists potential biases in professional bodybuilding. The author of this paper focuses on gender issues, but bodybuilders face other forms of discrimination as well. For example, a January 2016 article in the Art Journal describes speculation about how the offstage behavior of an athlete repeatedly prevented him from winning one of the most coveted titles in bodybuilding - Mr. Olympia.
Low Energy Availability
Most bodybuilders have planned cycles of energy intake. They typically follow a high-calorie diet in training season and a low-calorie diet in competition season. Unfortunately, the low-calorie diet causes them to enter a phase of low energy availability. Dietitians consider such a state dangerous as it has many negative effect on the person's health and well-being. A July 2018 report in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism describes these effects, which include mental illness and hormone imbalance. Ironically, a low-energy state also triggers muscle loss. Bodybuilders often respond to such loss by working even harder, creating a cycle of poor health.
Greater Injury Risk
The intense training routine of bodybuilders places them at risk for injury. In fact, bodybuilders and golfers experience more injuries than participants in any other leisure activity, according to a June 2018 survey in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation. A similar survey showed that 45 percent of bodybuilders now have an injury. This study, published in the October 2014 issue of the International Journal of Sports Medicine, also showed that older bodybuilders have an even higher injury rate. The authors of the 2014 study noted that respondents most often experienced injuries to the lower back, shoulder, elbow and knee. In addition, many of the athletes reported living with chronic pain.
Social Anxiety and Dysmorphia
Professional and amateur bodybuilders also experience more psycho-social disorders than most other athletes. In fact, psychiatrists created a specific condition - muscle dysmorphia - just for them. This disorder affects about 10 percent of all male gym members, according to an August 2016 review in Psychology Research and Behavior Management. People with this condition obsess over the shape and size of their muscles. They invest much money on, and put great effort into, enhancing their muscularity. A June 2017 analysis in Scientific Reports describes the negative consequences of this condition. The authors noted that many bodybuilders engage in risky behaviors to meet their goal of getting leaner and bigger. They may, for example, develop an emotional dependence on laxatives and steroids. Their behaviors and fears can lead to intense feelings of social anxiety. They typically avoid revealing situations like public bathrooms and beaches to manage this anxiety.