Injury prevention

I injured myself in mid November last year. Nothing serious just a mild grade 1 tear in vastus lateralis, one of your quads, when doing some heavy squats. I took it easy for a couple of weeks and gradually worked back into things. I then tore it again in the first week in January! To say I was not happy would be an understatement.   man squatting

What went wrong?

It's that time of year when flushed with the desire to get back to it after a bit of a break over the festive period can result in you getting injured. Avoiding injuries is paramount to any kind of sustainable progress, even more so as we get older.  Given that you are always likely to pick one up at some point it rather than fire back into things after the holidays it's a far better idea to ease yourself back into things.

I did this myself November and wasted about 3 weeks of training, though thankfully no injury. I say thankfully as I was coming back from a slight quad tear. It took me 3 weeks to realise that I needed to adjust things down. The rest period I had just had was on the back of having peaked as well as the quad tear. As a result, I had the general deconditioning that occurs after a rest period plus there was the normal drop in performance from the peak itself.

injured athlete

Training equals rehab, rehab equals training is a phrase that was coined by the American physio Charlie Weingroff. For me, the phrase means that rehab and training do not stand separately from one another. They are a continuum that blends seamlessly together. Parts of the rehab process sit at one end of the spectrum and parts of standard training are at the other the rest sits in the middle being neither one nor the other. Properly progressed rehab should resemble basic strength training and properly performed strength training has an injury preventative aspect.

Stress and injury are related and today's blog is about why. Stress is part of life, it is something that is impossible to avoid. How we deal with stress is the same regardless of the type. The body reacts to both physical or psychological stressors in exactly the same way. By pushing our nervous system towards a sympathetic state or, more simply, a flight or fight response. In the sympathetic state, we are ready for action, to run away from the lion if you will. The opposite of this is the parasympathetic state where we recover from the time spent in the sympathetic state. real stress

Plyometrics are an often misunderstood and misused form of training, think box jumps in a Crossfit WOD. We make use of them in the mid to late stages of our lower body rehab. But why do we use them? Their main purpose is to teach you to be more explosive or to create faster ground reaction times. That is to hit the ground and come off it again as fast as possible. This is essential in any sport that requires you to run or jump.  

Man performing plyometric drills

Your running warm-up is a great chance to prime yourself for a better quality run.  Warming up for exercise will always improve performance as it allows you to prepare for the harder work to come. Anything that raises your temperature and heart rate is a good thing but getting your warm up for running right is even better. A well-used form of warm up is the RAMP  style warm up. RAMP stands for
  • Raise temperature and heart rate
  • Activate the muscles to be used
  • Mobilise the joints
  • Potentiate or prime the body for the forces/intensities to be used

Last week I had a quick look at the benefits to runners of including strength training in their program. This week we'll look at when to schedule strength training in a running program. Where should you fit it in so that you get the benefit of having it in there but not have an adverse effect on your main activity, that is to say running?  

Strength and conditioning in sport are more common place over time. The role of the strength and conditioning specialist becoming more important as athletes look to maximise their potential. This makes a lot of sense from when we considier the benefits of being a stronger athlete. A stronger athlete will, in most cases, never be anywhere tapping out their strength in a game situation.  The conditioning side is about what is the appropriate type of work to be done. There is a lot to be gained from training the different energy systems but what ones are important.  Knowing what aspects to train and where to place them are very important. There is no point  in a marathon runner doing a Tabata session or a sprinter running for an hour.  Plyometric drills that can of great benefit when used correctly for runners of all distances.