Regardless of what you are training for or what level you’re at, there are lots of common areas in your training that can cause injuries aside from technique. In the following blog I will discuss these areas individually and hopefully by the end, you’ll be able to identify if there is one or more areas of your training that is causing your injuries or that could potentially cause an injury in the future! (Bare with me, it's the longest blog I've written, I honestly feel I could write 5000 words on each heading so have tried to keep it as to the point as possible!)
Lack of rest/recovery time - This is probably the number 1 reason for injury
There is often a mentality that by taking time off, you will loose all the results you have made in the previous block of training. I can assure you this is not true!
In fact without resting or taking de-load weeks you’ll almost certainly be training below the level your body is capable of which means you’re not progressing to your potential. Not only will you not be progressing to your potential, but without voluntarily resting your body, your body will force you to rest eventually...via an injury! This will certainly cause you to loose some of your results.
Rest/de-load weeks also increase motivation, so come week 1 of your next training block, you’re raring to go again. I hear time and time again from patients that they get better results once they start training less, because when they do train, they are training to their full potential with good progression and with a great mindset!
Volume - This is the amount of time you train per week i.e. total sets, miles run or number of classes.
Studies show the ‘sweet spot’ for volume is between 80%-130% of your ‘normal’, for the lowest risk of injury. ‘Normal’ means the volume it would take to maintain your current fitness levels, but what does this mean? One example would be;
If it takes 10 sets of leg weights per week to maintain your current level of muscle mass you should keep your volume range between 8-13 sets per week.
Let’s say you’ve achieved your goal of being able to run 5k without stopping but it takes 60 mins of running per wk for you to be able to maintain this, this means your volume of running should be between 48-78 mins per week.
The range in the examples above depend on what phase of your training you’re in. (see periodisation below)
Load/intensity - This is a percentage of what your body is capable of i.e 5k PB or 1 rep Max
It is important to know if your body has the capacity to perform at the intensity you’re asking of it. If you’re just starting out then I would start with an exercise that’s about a 4/10 for your ability, whether it be running or picking up weight’s. If you are experienced in your training you will roughly know what your 100% is by either your 1 rep max or your personal best over x amount of distance for example, which then brings us on to progression.
Progression - The rate your body is able to improve/progress
Studies show the lowest risk of injury is when progression is set to a maximum of 8% intensity per week. It’s important to remember this is a MAXIMUM not a target. Depending on where you are in your fitness journey, you’ll probably know that when you first start training, progression is a lot faster than when you’re an experienced trainer. Therefore, the more experienced you are the harder it’ll be to be anywhere near 8% improvement a week.
Periodisation - This is where you plan your training in to ‘blocks’
It’s a good idea to split your training into blocks, for example 6 or 8 weeks, slowly progressing the volume and intensity each week as discussed above, remembering to include a de-load week.(where intensity and volume are reduced). An example of this would be;
6 week training block
Week 1 ‘Normal’ training
Week 2 Progress Volume between 0-30% and intensity up to max of 8% on week 1
Week 3 Progress Volume between 0-30% and intensity up to max of 8% on week 2
Week 4 Progress Volume between 0-30% and intensity up to max of 8% on week 3
Week 5 80% volume of week 4 and 50% intensity
Week 6 100% rest (Plenty of stretching)
Week 1 of the new block continue from week 4 which is now your new 'Normal'
And finally…Age! - A touchy subject, but as much as we hate to admit it the older we get the more risk there is of injury. This means we need to adapt our training by reducing the weekly progressions or increasing how often we have rest weeks. For example in our 20’s we may perform 8 week blocks with just a de-load week on week 8 before heading to a new 8 week block, but in our 60’s we might perform a 6 week training block with week 5 as a de-load week and week 6 as complete rest before starting a new 6 week block (as above).
I hope this all makes sense, as I mentioned above I honestly feel I could write 5000 words on each heading so have tried to keep it as to the point as possible, but if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.