Training Levels & Loads - Getting the balance right ⚖

Injury can happen to anyone no matter your age, gender or athletic ability. However, there are some factors to consider that may make you more susceptible to certain injuries whether that be sports related injuries or non-sports related. One factor that may affect your injury risk is training load.   Training level

Almost every musculoskeletal injury that we experience is due to over loading of a structure within your body. That may be a bony, muscular, ligamentous or fascial structure. Take a look at these examples;

  1. If we roll our ankle inwards too much the ligaments in the ankle can not cope with such high stretch load going through them so they can snap or tear.

  2. If we contract our hamstring very quickly when we sprint at a speed it is not used to sprinting at, the hamstring muscle can not manage such a high contractile load and it can tear.

  3. If we run very long distances over and over again without proper training causing a continuous impact through our feet as we run, our shin bone can not cope with such a high impact load and it may crack.

  4. If we bend forwards to pick something up that is too heavy, especially if we were to do this over and over again, the discs in our back may not be able to cope with the pressure load you are picking up and they will protrude which can cause back pain and sciatica.

This principle can also carry over in to your daily life. For example, if you're not used to doing house work and then you spend 8 hours deep cleaning the house on your hands and knees most of the day you are putting positional stress/load on your lower back that it is not currently able to cope with.


Notice how in each example the culprit causing the injury is due to a form of high load – stretch load, contractile load, impact load, pressure load. Load doesn’t just have to refer to how heavy something is. It refers to a demand that you place upon your body to perform an activity or movement.


In order to avoid injury, it is critical to manage the load that is going through your body’s structures, whatever form this may be in. In order to be able to tolerate more load you need to practice taking this load in small levels to start with and gradually increasing the load until you reach your goal load. For example;

  1. If you want to be able to run 5KM, you should start with running 1KM and if your body is able to cope with this you can increase this to 2KM then 3KM and so on.

  2. If you want to squat 100KG you will need to start by squatting 30KG, then 35KG, then 40KG and so on.

  3. If you want to be able to do an 8 hour house deep clean in on day you should spend a few weeks deep cleaning for 2 hours, then a few weeks deep cleaning for 4 hours and so on until after a few months you are able to clean for 8 hours without getting any pain during or the following day.

It is important to note that everyone’s starting load with be different.


How does this relate to my training level and injury?

There are 3 categories that someone can be placed in to when it comes to exercise and training. These are:

  1. Over training – this is training when the load is exceeding what your body is able to cope with. It will always result in an injury if not managed.

  2. Optimal training – this is training when the load is equal to what your body is able to cope with. This is the ideal training category for everyone and rarely results in injury.

  3. Under training – this is training when the load is less that what your body is able to cope with. Although this rarely results in direct injury it is not an ideal training category to be in as it can result in loss of strength, speed and balance.

Therefore if your training level is anything but optimal, you are at increased risk of injury.

TOP TIPS TO TAKE HOME


  1. Always break your goal up into smaller stages and progress your load gradually

  2. Aim to train in your “optimal training” zone which will look different for everybody, don’t compare yourself to others when it comes to training!

  3. If you need further advice regarding your optimal training load, or if you have an injury that is preventing you from achieving your goal seek the help of a professional exercise specialist like a physiotherapist or personal trainer.