Guess Which One’s The British Champion!

It was great to have Scott Lincoln in the other day to go through some of the finer points of the shot put (well no points, it is round after all). My student Amelia and I even got a couple of practice throws in!

It’s really important to find these opportunities for students and help them to gain an understanding of some of the less well known sports.

As Sports Therapists it’s really important to gain an insight into the strength and power required in the sport. By understanding the sports of the athletes we treat, we are more able to assess and treat them effectively. Shot put is tough and requires a great deal of timing and skill (perhaps not so evident in the videos) and is a drive of power from the ground up, finishing at the finger-tips.

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There’s a British Champion in these videos and pictures, but I’ll leave it to you to decide which one of us that is…

 

10 tips for starting exercise safely in the New Year

I’ve seen it regularly on Twitter and Facebook, where people are announcing a time for change and to get fit again. I’ve also seen several posts about how it’s not necessarily a good time to make a New Years resolution. In reality does it matter whether it is a good time or not? This is the time of year where people are looking forward and want to make changes after the binge eating of the Christmas season.
So with this in mind, I thought that I would post 10 simple pointers, which may help keep you injury free and motivated, if you are someone who is starting exercise after a long break:

1. Take it steady

– Start slow and gradually increase your exercise volume. I regularly see people who have “caught the bug” and don’t want to stop or done way too much too soon. We would would love to see a nice linear progression, but the reality is often much more complex.

Recovery_Meakins

Credit Adam Meakins, @AdamMeakins, http://www.thesports.physio.com

2. What are you trying to achieve?

– For some people goal setting can be really helpful, but keep it realistic and start with bite sized pieces. You can always adjust them if they are too easy.

3. Listen to your body

– I say this quite often, but it’s your biggest clue to something going wrong. Yes the exercise will be/should be tough, but you should also be recovering in-between sessions, if not you may need to reduce the intensity or take a longer rest.

4. Make a plan, but a flexible plan

– Once you’ve made your goals, make you’re plan. When is your time for exercise going to be? With our busy lives, it can be hard to fit stuff in, so make time for yourself. Having said that I quite often see injuries where people have been unwilling to deviate from their plans, where a rest week/low mileage week might have been all they needed.

5. Exercise with a friend

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Ullswater Trail Race

– This can be a fantastic motivator, if you’ve made that commitment to exercise, you’re less likely to skip a session.

 

7. Measure your progress

– Again this can really help to motivate (can also go the other way if things aren’t going to plan), but think about what you are monitoring. If it’s just weight loss, there are quite often other improvements in fitness before you will see much change in your weight. So do you see a reduction in your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) for a particular exercise, can you do more reps/walk/run/cycle further in a given time?

6. Use an app/technology

– I quite often suggest apps such as the “Couch to 5K” running app as a way of gradually increasing running volume. Other apps such as Strava, Endomondo or MapMyRun can also be useful to help monitor progress or log activity.

8. Diet and exercise go hand in hand

– After the excess of Christmas, this is important to recognise, but I’m not suggesting you need to jump on the newest fad diet out there. Look at what you eat and be honest with yourself, make small changes first and then build on these improvements.

9. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

– Enjoy it! Find an exercise that you love to do and getting fit becomes so much more enjoyable. It should still be hard work though!

10. Keep it simple

– All of the above is so much easier if you keep it simple, find your way to exercising and fitness. I am a firm believer that there is a form of exercise out there for everyone, you just have to find yours.

On a final note: If you already have a niggle or injury which you feel is holding you back or even preventing you from exercising, get it checked out. At Ed Pratt Sports Therapy we can work with you to help prevent injuries, as well as treating current problems, with the aim of getting you back doing the exercise/sport you love.

Let me know what you think of the above tips and if you have any to add, which you think others will find useful add them to the comments box below.

Over Reaching or Over Training?

Its that time of year, with the Spring Marathon season just around the corner, when lots of people up their running volume and intensity in an effort to reach the training goals on their training plan.  Sometimes this can lead over training (OT) and injury.  But what (apart from the obvious) is overtraining? How do we define it? Recognise it? Manage it? In this post I aim to provide some kind of definition, differentiate between over reaching and over training and provide some info on how to manage the two conditions.

Over Reaching Vs Over Training? Non Functional Over-Reaching (NFOR) can be defined as:

“When athletes do not sufficiently respect the balance between training and recovery”

Meeusen et al. (2006)

And is different, although not easily distinguishable from over training.  The defining characteristic of which, is an reduction in the ability to perform at established levels, which may persist for weeks or months (Matos et al., 2011).  By the way these two terms are different to the regular “overload” we do in our training to get adaptations and improvements in our physical fitness.  The main difference between the two conditions appears to be recovery time. Recovery for NFOR can be measured from days to a couple of weeks, whereas OT can take weeks to months to recover from.

Who is affected?

NFOR and OT can affect both endurance and non-endurance athletes (Matos et al., 2011), but measuring the exact incidence of rates can be difficult due to the difficulty establishing set characteristics and measurable markers.  The range of the incidence of OT varies greatly, dependant on whether the measurements were over a single training season (21% in swimmers) or a whole career (60% in elite runners). It is more like to be more common in elite athletes, with high training volumes and intensities.

Signs and Symptoms of NFOR & OT

This can be split into 3 main areas: Physical, Psychological, Psychosocial.

Physical

  • The defining characteristic is a reduction in the ability to perform at established levels.
  • Reduced sleep disturbances, despite fatigue.
  • Increase in perceived effort during normal training.
  • Increased upper respiratory tract infections. Thought to be due to a depressed immune system secondary to chronic physical and emotional stress.
  • Increased frequency of injuries.
  • Muscle heaviness, during and after training.

Psychological

  • Reduced enjoyment during training.
  • Lack of confidence and feeling intimidated by opponents.
  • Frequent mood changes, especially feeling sad during competition or training.

Psychosocial

    • Multiple stressors from family/own expectations, busy/work school life.
    • Sport is often the most important factor in an athletes life and can often lead to reduced involvement in aspect of an athletes life outside their sport.
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Possible cycle of psychosocial factors during NFOR & OT

Managing NFOR & OT

      1. Rest and recover – this is the most important aspect of managing NFOR and OT, you must allow the body and mind to recover. Encourage normal sleeping patterns.
      2. Training modification – reduction in volume and intensity and change from single sport/discipline to include cross-training.
      3. Communicate – athletes try to communicate with family, friends and coaches. Coaches and parents communicate with the individual.
      4. Resumption of training should be tailored to the athlete, based on their signs and symptoms and monitored and modified accordingly.

Prevention This can be more difficult than it may first seem. The effects of overtraining can take place of a protracted period and so changes in performance and general health can be quite subtle. Mood state can influence the willingness of the athlete to recognise the symptoms of over-training and thus become worse.  The points below may help:

      • By keeping a training log and note of race results (i.e. for 10k races) it is easier to identify patterns before they develop into problems.
      • Ensuring that you are getting adequate sleep and recovery. Plan this into your training week and make rest days exactly that.
      • If you compete in one individual sport (i.e. swimming or running) try and introduce some cross training into your week.
      • Keep your training varied and fun (that should be the main reason why we exercise after all)

This was a bit of a long post for me, but I hope you’ve found it useful. Feel free to leave a comment/feedback (but probably best to not comment about my lack of artistic ability!).

Best wishes

Ed

References:
MATOS, N. F., R. J. WINSLEY, and C. A. WILLIAMS. (2011) Prevalence of Nonfunctional Overreaching/Overtraining in Young English Athletes. Medicine and Science in Sports Exercise, 43:7, 1287–1294.
MEEUSEN, R., DUCLOS, M., GLEESON, M., REITJENS, G., STEINACKER, J. and URHAUSEN, A. (2006). Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the Overtraining Syndrome. European Journal of Sports Science 6:1, 1-14.

But my programme says I have to run!

This is a quick post about running training programmes, whether they are for marathon, half marathon or 5/10k the information below should still be applicable. It is aimed more at the novice runner, but there may be a few pointers for the more experienced runner too. This post is definitely not out to knock the training plans or discourage runners from using them, only to make runners more aware of the risks of generalisation and overtraining.

Running training programmes are widely available on the Internet and will be providing structure and direction to 1000’s of runners taking part in events this coming season and the vast majority of them will have no problems. The
Runaddicts.netproblem comes with the “one size fits all” approach. Using a generic programme means its not design for you personally, but for everyone and sometimes that just doesn’t work.

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When training days are labelled “rest or recovery run” pressure to improve/increase mileage can quite mean that the rest is forgotten and the athlete runs instead. Rest days are an important part of the training process, allowing the body to adapt to the stresses placed upon it during training. By not allowing sufficient rest periods, you run the risk of overtraining as the body is unable to recover sufficiently between training sessions, thereby increasing physiological stress and risk of overuse injuries.

Rest days should be used to assess how your body feels between runs and check for any areas of soreness or increased stiffness
Humankinetics.combetween limbs. Initially for the novice runner, or athlete returning from injury, do not run on consecutive days aiming for three runs a week depending on how you feel.

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A quick note on over analysing – it is very easy, especially after being injured, to over analyse and think that every bit of tightness is a new injury! You are looking for tightness or discomfort over more than one run or something which progressively worsened during a long run.

Finally if the training program suggests an increase in training volume and intensity and you still feel tired form the previous weeks training or you found it really tough, then be cautious of how much you increase your training the following week. Listen to your body, you do not have to run just because its in your programme!