Your 2019 training guide: how to recognize when to train, progress, and rest.
The incidence of sports injuries is high. Up to 80% of athletes are injured every year. The prevention of injuries has never been as “medicalized” as it is today. The science of diagnostics and treatment is becoming more and more perfected, and the body has never been studied as much as it is today in the hopes of preventing injury. The predicting factor for injuries most often cited in the literature are “having a previous injury” and “no prior exercise experience”. But are we really taught how to recognize signs of tissue stress and how to modify our training with adequate progression to reduce our risk of injury?
Injuries can be caused by intrinsic risk factors such as: age, stress, a biomechanical flaw, muscular dysfunction or tissue frailty. Training experience is also a major factor and relies on the individual to recognize signs of tissue overloading or mechanical stress. This is the most common cause of injury that I tend to see and is associated with basic training errors. The second cause can be due to extrinsic risk factors, and this can include proper training equipment or environment, sport type, and availability for medical care support.
In my practice people often initiate therapy during a set back or after making a training error of doing too much too soon, or adding speed, load or intensity to a movement pattern that has not earned the capacity to do so. Below are guidelines to follow If you’re wondering if you should train, modify training, take a rest day or seek out help from a movement professional. You will know if you have overstepped your maximum capacity to adapt because it will result in either pain during effort, pain after your workout and/or morning stiffness.
REDlight- pain with movement along with increased pain or stiffness in the joint or tendon the next day- persists with no change. Allow a rest day and seek a movement professional to get it assessed so load can be properly prescribed.
YELLOWlight- pain during training but no increased pain or stiffness next day, it fully recovers over night- train again but do not add load, speed or volume. Repeat the load- proceed with caution.
GREENlight- no pain- happy training and follow progressive loading principles. The degree of tissue adaptation is proportional to the intensity of exercise.
Prevention of overuse injuries can include fixing faulty biomechanics and muscle dysfunctions – an example is having your running form looked at and getting a core or hip strengthening program. It can also include eliminating extrinsic factors such as finding a shoe that works for you or changing the surface you are running on. For example, try a trail run instead of always hitting the pavement.
As we continue to tune into our bodies, we can learn the subtle warning signs it gives us indicating over training, and in return we can become proficient in training adaptation. Recognizing these signs allow us to know when we need rest and when we can continue to train. The human body will adapt if the applied load is not greater than the body’s capacity to adapt. Every new stimulus must be integrated progressively, for example: hills, volume, intensity, surfaces, shoes, load and speed. Injuries can be reduced by modifying the workout regime and keep in mind the capacity to adapt to a mechanical stress is different for everyone. Learn to “run your own race” and be selfish enough to do your own training program – even if you are part of a group class. If you need to take a day off, run one less hill, or modify your movements for a couple of workouts to honor what feels good in your body – DO SO! Remember to train smarter not harder so you can continue to do the things that move you.
Gina Perrault is a movement-based sports physiotherapist with over 14 years experience in treating sports and musculoskeletal injuries. She is the founder of Restorative Sports Therapy, with a purposetopassionately change the way athletes and people recover from injury; mentally and physically. She hopes to change the conversation around full-body recovery and incorporating emotional health into the physical healing process. Her goal is to inspire you to take better care of yourself and to meet you where you are at in your health journey. You can view a full list of services as well as the business philosophy and how to restore strength in movement at www.restorativesportstherapy.com