Are you training yourself into injury?

The biggest cause of injury we see is errors in training volume and loading. Especially at this time of year (anyone out there getting back into the gym since covid restrictions have eased?). There is a common trend for people to present around about 8-12 weeks after a dramatic change in their training regime with a little niggle that has developed from a niggle into pain, and then injury. The specific cause is often multifactorial and therefore unique in every case, BUT there are strong common themes of changes in volume and loading.

Increases in loading whether it be in the type of exercise itself; number of repetitions; amount of weight lifted or length of session (particularly length of runs for example), or number of sessions per week are essential to create an adaptive response in our tissues, it’s what makes us fitter faster and stronger. This is due to the tissues (muscles, joints and other connective tissues as well as the nervous system) recognising the increased demands that are being placed upon them and adapting accordingly. However these increased demands and stresses can also very easily tip the balance into too much stress which can then develop into tissue damage and injury (especially where tendons are concerned – but more on that another time). So it’s essential to be able to carefully manage your increases in training volume and loading… You need enough to create an adaptive response, but to carefully balance it so you don’t over stress certain parts of the body. A good rule of thumb is to only increase by 10%.

There are a couple of strategies that you can use to manage periods of change in your training:

Recovery – recovery is JUST AS IMPORTANT as the training. Without adequate recovery you won’t get as effective an adaptive response, and also the muscles can’t heal and repair and the stresses of loading start to accumulate, and eventually pain will occur. Great examples of recovery are: are you getting enough sleep? How much time are you taking between exercise sessions? Are you cooling down after a heavy session?

Manage your volume. More is not always better – for example if you run just adding in two extra 7k runs to your week is possibly not the best use of your time, try changing it up by adding in an interval session to improve pace, or a hill session to get stronger on hills. Both of these have the added advantage of not only stimulating a more effective adaptive response, but also of changing the way the tissues are stressed which helps to manage the loading. Likewise if you go to the gym instead of just doing several HIIT classes maybe mix it up with some weights and a pilates class to spread the love around the body.

And if you need more help, just ask us! This is what we do, as well as addressing and treating your injury we will modify your training program so that you can keep training, and also help you out with advice on ways to manage your loading and recovery.