Training for an event such as marathon, triathlon or tough mudder can take it’s toll on the body both mentally and physically.
Here are our top tips for staying injury free this race season.
Flexibility is vital but there is no one size fits all. Comparing left and right sides is a great way to start as everyone has different length of muscles.
Let’s use the ankle and calf as our example – if we do a typical ‘calf stretch’ against a wall we can measure the difference of the feet from the wall and compare left and right.
If there is a difference in foot position and movement around the ankle (due to tightness, pain or a natural restriction) we then need to decide; is the muscle ‘tight’ or ‘short’?
Tight muscles can be eased with massage using a foam roller, massage ball or booking in with a professional to help alleviate the tightness in the muscle. Often this can be done using trigger point therapy, acupuncture or shockwave treatments.
Short muscles generally require some stretching which can be static or dynamic. As a rule of thumb it is generally better to stretch after the muscles are warm, this can also be more comfortable.
Stretching is also a used in muscle and tendon healing to ensure the injured area heels with the correct alignment of muscle fibres (collagen).
Whilst there is evidence for both stretching and foam rolling it is often difficult to know which to do….
Strength is next on the hit list and should be thought of as muscle balance.
If one muscle or group of muscles is weak or underactive another muscle will overpower it.
Take the shoulder rotator cuff for example. The shoulder is composed of a ball and socket, but really this is more like a golf ball balancing on a tee. One of the functions of the rotator cuff is to keep the ball (‘humeral head’) on the socket (‘glenoid’). If one of four of the rotator cuff muscles isn’t working correctly the dominant muscles (deltoid) will pull the shoulder up which can lead to shoulder issues such as impingement.
Getting the balance right takes time and careful selection of exercise – often we need the help of a trained eye to analyse our weaknesses and help develop a strength programme.
Strength takes time to build so commit to a programme and reassess and progress your strength every 4-6 weeks.
How many of us skip recovery days or count recovery as sitting at your work computer eating breakfast after a tough gym session completed at 6am?
Recovery is KEY to performance in avoiding overtraining, injury and dips in performance.
The graph here helps use to understand this. We have a base level of fitness and when we train we ‘load’ the body. A period of recovery follows and our fitness increases. If we load again too soon and recovery is not adequate our bodies cannot tolerate the load and we end up in the ‘red’. Doing this over time increases our risk of injury and overtraining and results in poor performance.
Think twice about skipping those recovery days!
The main reasons for time loss from sport are illness and previous injury so my advice is ‘control the controllables’. Flexibility, Strength and Recovery are all within your power to control so work on the weak and tight points to avoid injury and recover smart to avoid illness!