If you are an athlete of any description, regardless of the level at which you compete, training is essential for your physical and mental development. A well-structured training programme allows you to develop agility, balance, endurance, speed and strength, together with ambition and confidence. Of course, as well as helping you to perform to the best of your ability, any training programme should be designed to reduce your risk of injury; indeed, avoiding injury is a fundamental principle of training smart, as opposed to just training hard.
Many sports-related injuries, including common overuse injuries, such as stress fractures and tendinopathy, can be attributed to weak and tight muscles, which are simply not strong enough to sustain an increased level of activity when a sportsperson makes, say, the transition from pre-season training to competition. However, by remaining active even when you are out of season and, in particular, incorporating a variety of low-impact activities, such as cycling, swimming and walking, into your training programme, you can reduce your chance of injury. Using varying training methods, of varying intensities, stimulates muscle growth in different muscle groups and improves your overall fitness, without overworking any single group. Proper form, in terms of posture and technique, is crucial to prevent injury while training and prevents wasted effort by targeting only the intended muscle(s) or muscle group(s). Similarly, the human body is sensitive to changes in the volume and intensity of training, ie training ‘load’, so to avoid injury you should not increase, or decrease, your training load by more than 10% from one week to the next.
Muscle stiffness is contributory to the risk of muscle injury, so do not underestimate the importance of properly warming up before, and cooling down after, any training session. Warming up, by means of an easy aerobic activity, such as jogging, followed by gentle stretching of each main muscle group you will use in training, prepares you, physically and mentally, for what is to follow. Physically, the warm-up process increases blood flow around your body and the flexibility of your muscles and joints, making them less susceptible to injury. Likewise, cooling down, again by light aerobic exercise and gentle stretching, helps with the removal of waste products, such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid, depending upon the intensity of training. Bear in mind, too, that how you rest and recover at the end of one training session will largely determine how you perform in the next. During a training session, you may subject your body to considerable physiological stress, so you need to be sensitive to the needs of your physiology and allow yourself to adapt and recover your previous energy levels. That said, training and recovery are no longer, necessarily, mutually exclusive activities; so-called ‘active recovery’ includes low-intensity aerobic exercises, such as cycling, jogging or swimming, or even massage, including self-myofascial release, which uses foam rollers, to promote increased blood flow, eliminate trigger points, or muscle ‘knots, and facilitate muscle healing, thereby leaving you refreshed and energised.
Turramurra Sports & Spinal Physiotherapy have experienced physiotherapists that will be able to tailor a training programme to suit you, your sport and any injuries you may have had. Give them a call today on 9144 1510.