“It’s hard to find balance when you’re broken”: Exploring female endurance athletes’ psychological experience of recovery from relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S)

Langbein, Rachel, Martin, Daniel, Allen-Collinson, Jacquelyn and Jackman, Patricia (2022) “It’s hard to find balance when you’re broken”: Exploring female endurance athletes’ psychological experience of recovery from relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S). Performance Enhancement & Health . ISSN 2211-2669

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.peh.2021.100214

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“It’s hard to find balance when you’re broken”: Exploring female endurance athletes’ psychological experience of recovery from relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S)
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Abstract

Introduction: This study aimed to explore qualitatively the psychological experience of recovery from relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S). More specifically, it sought to understand: how RED-S is experienced from a psychological perspective; sources of psychological conflict in the ongoing management of energy availability (EA); and athlete responses to psychological conflict in the pursuit of optimal EA.
Methods: Eight female endurance athletes identifying as “in recovery” or “recovered” from RED-S (M age = 29.78 years) participated in this integrated methods multiple case-study. Participants engaged in an initial topical life history interview, before completing an online diary over a 21-day period, taking photographs of psychological triggers for seven days, and participating in a follow-up interview. Data were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis.
Results: The domain summary, in too deep and treading water, captured the significant psychological implications of RED-S. Seven sources of psychological conflict reported while managing EA were identified. The domain summary a constant tug of war represented the responses to these sources of psychological conflict in the ongoing management of EA. Within this domain summary, the themes in two minds and an emotional rollercoaster illustrated the cognitive and affective responses to psychological conflict, while giving in and the only way is through represented the adaptive and maladaptive behavioural responses during recovery, respectively.
Conclusion: This study offers novel insights into the complex nature of recovery from RED-S and highlights the importance of considering psychological factors underpinning improved physiological functioning and overall wellbeing during RED-S recovery.

Keywords:low energy availability, disordered eating, eating disorder, mental health, overtraining
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C600 Sports Science
C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C841 Health Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
ID Code:47554
Deposited On:22 Dec 2021 10:36

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