INJURY PREVENTION SERIES #5 – THE LITTLE THINGS THAT KEEP YOU HEALTHY
To keep the body healthy and able to adapt to new challenges it must able to rest and repair. If too many challenges occur all at once the body can become overloaded and unable to repair itself. This is one of the reasons why training harder and more frequently sometimes doesn’t yield a boost in performance and can actually lead to injury.
The rate at which the body repairs itself depends on 3 main things:
If training is done at a maximum for 7 days a week it is very difficult for the body to repair in time for the training session the next day, even if nutrition and sleep are optimal. This is why the safest training plans, that create champions with longevity in their chosen field, normally have at least 1-2 days rest per week and have the athlete training with 60%-80% intensity (more of that in the next article).
Unbroken and good quality sleep is essential in muscle repair and reducing inflammation throughout the body as shown by Mônico-Neto M et al. 2017. While it is very difficult to encourage the body to achieve Rapid eye movement (REM) level sleep it normally occurs in the last part of unbroken sleep, which is why a large period of unbroken sleep is better for injury prevention than having smaller periods of sleep or naps .
Athletes involved in endurance sports such as swimming, running or cycling tend to have early morning or late evening training sessions and a high volume of training, these two factors will be dependent on the sports club so it can be hard to change them. However, one factor that leads to injury is completely under the athletes control; nutrition.
A classic triad of injury seen in intermediate and professional athletes goes as follows:
1) Athlete has a bad day and gains time on an event.
2) Athlete trains harder and loses weight in an attempt to improve time.
3) Athlete enters into severe caloric deficit.
4) With reduced caloric intake body is unable to repair in time for the next training session.
5) Cycle repeats from number 1.
“BUT WHAT ABOUT FASTING?”
Many people often confuse fasting with crash dieting, fasting is a controlled and brief reduction in calories. Usually reducing overall caloric from minimum maintenance intake by 200 calories per day for a week or two. This can be repeated regularly or continuously with the proper monitoring. More severe forms of fasting will involve stopping calorie intake for a week, however this will be done infrequently in controlled conditions when the individual is not training or doing strenuous activity. Crash dieting can best described as reduction of 1000 calories or more a day (think going from a pizza a day to nothing but salad) for a period of up to 2-3 weeks, however calories tend not to be counted so caloric restriction can be a variable reduction. This is not sustainable and will create significant on the body especially when done in conjunction with strenuous training. Fasting is controlled, monitored and appropriate for the level of activity. Crash diets are not and will be a contributing factor towards injury.