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Getting fit without injury

Time for me to get fit!
How do I not get injured once I start?

 At last spring is here and the cold dark days of winter are receding behind us.

As the rays of sunlight arise earlier, the urge to get fit for summer often crosses our mind. However, the risk of sustaining an overuse injury is high if you rush headlong into training without a plan to increase your activity at a measured rate.

None of us want to start exercising (whether running, swimming or gym) and suddenly develop an injury like tendinitis/tendinopathy, muscle strain, stress fracture or bursitis.

Question: How do you start training and not get injured?

Short Answer: Don’t increase the amount of training you do too quickly!

Long Answer: Let’s talk about load management to explain why.

Recent research has targeted load management in the prevention of overuse injuries (1).

When you start an exercise programme, there is increased stress on the body’s tissues which leads to an adaptive response. Too much load to quickly can lead to breakdown of soft tissue or bone leading to injury.

A balance between increasing load and rest between exercise sessions leads to adaptation of the body’s tissues and the ability to increase load.

So how do you measure your load and how can you safely increase your load and not end up with injury?

A simple measure of load can be derived by 2 variables – perceived exertion and length of the training session, where;
1. Session rating of perceived exertion (rated out of 10) where 10/10 is maximum exertion
2. Minutes of the training session

We multiply the 2 figures to get a session training load. You then add up the sessional training load for the week to get weekly total. This is termed the acute workload for the week. We then add this to the previous the previous 3 weeks and get an average to get a rolling measure of the chronic load your body has undergone.

The ratio of change shown to be the “sweet spot “in increasing training and at risk of an injury is 0.8-1.3. That is, the acute load measure for the last week as a ratio to the average of the previous 4 weeks should be 0.8-1.3.

Did you know that having had a previous running injury means you are more likely to suffer another one!
Hint. Come in and get fixed the first time!


Injury free training


Here is an example. This week you go for 3 runs of 45 min at a perceived exertion of 7/10. We calculate 45 x 7=315 units for one run. By 3 runs for the week equal 315 x 3= 945 units.

You have been building up over the last 3 weeks and the total each week were 630, 735 and 840.

Week 1 – 3 runs of 30 min at perceived exertion of 7/10 = 3 x 30 x 7 = 630
Week 2 – 3 runs of 35 min at perceived exertion of 7/10 = 3 x 35 x 7 = 735
Week 3 – 3 runs of 40 min at perceived exertion of 7/10 = 3 x 40 x 7 = 840

The chronic workload is (630 + 735 + 840 + 945)/4 = 574.75. We now have this week’s unit load of 945 divided by 574.75 = 1.6.

You are above the ratio of 0.8 -1.3 and are at increased risk of injury!

As always, prevention is better than a cure so start this simple measure to build up on your exercise regime and avoid the risk of an overuse injury.

Finally, if you are starting exercising and are having symptoms then ring 1300 291 133 today and let our experienced All Care Physios get you back on track today.

Gabbett.T. The training – injury prevention paradox: should athletes be training smarter and harder? Br J Sports Med. 2016 Mar; 50(5): 273–280.

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