Adaptations to Training
When we “use” our bodies, our bodies adapt to the activity we are doing. The more we do, the more we are able to do. The less we do, the less we are able to do. This is essential in eliciting a training response.
When we train we want to cause stress to our body. (This may be our muscles, bones, cardiovascular system, etc.) We want to overload the system, which causes a degree of damage or micro-trauma. The body then responds by growing bigger / stronger / faster / fitter, so it can cope with that load in future. We cause stress to force adaptations.
Stress/load => damage => rest/recovery => adaptation/growth.
A lot of common gradual-onset injuries result from a failure to adapt to load.
There are a number of variables that can be multiplied to determine the total load:
The intensity of the activity is the most powerful multiplier in this list.
When we are considering total load, we also need to consider variables that make it harder for our bodies to adapt to load.
Variables that can be multiplied to determine how well we adapt to the load:
Recent research found that getting less than 8 hours sleep a day almost doubles the injury rate in athletes.
Often when I’m talking to my patient about their injury and why it has happened, they guiltily report that they don’t stretch enough.
We’ve all grown up being told how important is it to stretch:
Interestingly, health professionals have changed our tune about the importance of stretching. Research over the last 15 years has suggested static stretching is not as beneficial as was once thought. I’ve been having conversations about the reasons to stretch (or not) for at least the last 10 years, but the current science on stretching just isn’t catching on.
So, what do we know?…
DOES STRETCHING PREVENT INJURIES?
Therefore, in practical terms the average athlete would need to stretch for 23 years to prevent one injury. Definitely not worth it.
DOES STRETCHING HELP MUSCLE SORENESS?
DOES STRETCHING INCREASE RANGE OF MOVEMENT?
DOES STRETCHING HELP PERFORMANCE?
A substantial body of research has shown that sustained static stretching acutely decreases muscle strength and power (ref). Stretching before an endurance event lowers endurance performance and increases the energy cost of running (ref). Cycling efficiency and time to exhaustion are reduced after static stretching (ref).
Pretty much any measure of performance is made worse by stretching. Static stretching impairs:
- maximal voluntary contraction
- isometric force
- isokinetic torque
- one repetition maximum lifts
- vertical jump
- sprint times
- running economy
A comprehensive review (ref) from 2011 concludes:
WHAT ABOUT DYNAMIC STRETCHING?
SO WHY STRETCH?
SO SHOULD WE STOP STRETCHING?
Do you love a good stretch?
Or feel guilty you're not stretching enough?...
Monitoring the athlete training response: subjective self-reported measures trump commonly used objective measures (Saw AE et al, 2015)
Monitoring athletes' response to training is crucial for improving performance and avoiding injury.
Elite level sport utilises an increasing number of ways to measure athlete well-being. Batteries of tests are packaged into commercial products attracting premium fees. This is justifiable if you are Sydney Swans or Liverpool FC, but where does that leave the rest of us? Are we missing out if we're not testing cortisol levels to know if we are over-training?
A recent paper carried out a systematic review where objective measure, such as:
- blood markers - hormonal / inflammatory / immune response
- heart rate
- oxygen consumption
- heart rate response
- perceived stress
The researchers concluded that the:
- Subjective measures responded well to training-induced changes in athlete well-being.
- Subjective well-being typically worsened with an acute increase in training load and with a chronic training load; and improved with an acute decrease in training load.
- Subjective measures for routine athlete monitoring are relatively cheap and simple to implement.
- Subjective measures are useful for athlete monitoring, and practitioners may employ them with confidence.
Knee and ankle injuries are common in netball, making up three quarters of all injuries. Devastating ACL injuries are unfortunately common, making up 25% of serious injuries.
The KNEE program offers a range of warm-up exercises that help prevent injury. There are a range of age and experience appropriate exercises for junior through to elite netballers. They are easily understood by players and coaches, with a number of options offering variability and progression.
It would be great to see this program widely adopted by Australia's largest participation sport for females.