Prevent Overtraining and Injuries
The key to an optimal training program is balance. Overtraining, overdoing, and under-recovering can really impact our racing or fitness goals. Here are some tips on how to prevent overtraining and injuries during your training cycle.
- Regulate the amount of training and periodize your schedule to peak for your event.
- Have rest days each week and plan your training schedule with regular short breaks.
- Avoid heavy training intensity right before a competition, such as boot camps, CrossFit style workouts, etc. Incorporate cross-training to help you recover.
- Incorporate proper stretching and core stability exercises.
- Work with a credentialed coach, certified fitness trainer, or licensed physical therapist to help set a proper schedule.
Incorporate Proper Warm-Up
Research shows that using only static stretching (holding a stretch in one position for 15-30 seconds) before a sports activity actually relaxes muscles and reduces its ability to produce power. To perform your best in any sport, start with a 5-minute cardiovascular activity and then perform 5-10 minutes of dynamic movements that mimic the activities you are getting ready to perform. Save static stretching for post-exercise/sport. You can also do foam rolling, vibration tools such as Theragun and Hypervolt to warm up your muscles.
Active rest and recovery, along with a proper cool down, are critically important and help you to bounce back after training.
- Use cardiovascular activity (5-10 minutes) that gradually decreases in intensity, such as a light jog or cycling on a stationary bike.
- Perform a static stretching routine for 5-10 minutes.
- Hold the stretch. Ballistic (bouncing) stretching increases your risk of injury without added benefits.
- Use hydrotherapy and cryotherapy to enhance recovery, such as:
- Alternate warm and cool water shower 3-4 times to help stimulate muscle recovery, or take a quick dip in a cold plunge pool to reduce joint aches and lower body temperature.
- Take an Epsom salt bath with warm water for 20 minutes to help relax muscles and reduce soreness and stiffness the next day.
- Use compression stockings 2-3 hours post sport or training session to boost recovery.
- Massage within 2 hours or by the next day after the training, practice or competition.
Ensure Proper Shoe & Sock Fit
Injuries are very related to footwear. Choosing the correct shoe for your foot type and activity can prevent injury and enhance functional performance.
- Check shoes regularly, and replace them when worn. Start checking your running shoes for wear and tear after 2-3 months or 300 miles. Running shoes typically do not last more than 500 miles.
- Socks are an often-overlooked piece of equipment. They provide an athlete with function, comfort, and the potential to prevent injury. Sock technology helps control moisture, dissipate heat, provide shock absorption, and resists friction.
When fueling your body, it’s best to choose foods and beverages that are nutrient dense, energy supplying and healing; and that provide benefits above and beyond strength or speed in the short term. If you need help with your training or race day nutrition working with a nutritionist can be very helpful.
Keep a Training Diary
Monitor your daily training, competition, sleep (how much and the quality), morning heart rate (before you get up), your mood, and your motivation. It can help you detect critical changes that could be early warning signs of overtraining or potential injury risk. A trained sports physical therapist can instruct you on how to use these diaries.
Practice Mind Power
Manage performance anxiety. Learn and use skills such as imagery, relaxation, and self-talk to reduce stress and improve performance.
Get Quality Sleep
Sleep has a significant impact on performance. Sleep deprivation can increase levels of cortisol and has also been seen to decrease the production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy use during physical activity. Lack of quality sleep increases the likelihood of fatigue, low energy, poor focus, and slowed recovery.
Watch for Early Warning Signs
When to See a Physical Therapist:
- Recurrent stiffness/tightness that does not resolve with stretching.
- Swelling, warmth, or pain over joints or muscles that do not resolve within 72 hours.
- Loss of range of motion, function, or sports performance.
Note: A special thank you to Back 2 Normal, for this valuable information. B2N understands athletes and performance. They look at all aspects that make up a healthy athlete and integrate innovative modalities and technologies into performance and recovery programs. Visit their website at www.back2normalpt.com or contact them at (727) 362-6866 to learn more about how to prepare for a race and prevent injuries.