How to Prevent Injuries When Training for Endurance Sports
So you’ve entered 70.3, Comrades, Ironman, Epic or one of the many other awesome endurance or multi day events on offer and now what? In the weeks and months leading up to an event we all want to get fitter and stronger whilst remaining injury free.
This can be the tricky part when we are pushing our bodies and using all our energy resources on a daily basis… so just how do we do this??
Ideally you should be following a training program from a reputable coach or source which must include at least 1 rest day a week where you do little or no exercise and an easy (“rest”) week after every 2-3 weeks of hard training. Yes, rest is part of training! (No cringing please) Rest ensures that you can maximize further training efforts and allows your body structures such as muscles, tendons and bones to recover.
Load is classified as underload, moderate load and overload. In order to allow the body to recover significantly there should be a 72 hour interval time between overload sessions. The consequences of no rest or overload sessions being too close together are muscle tears, joint pain, stress fractures and burnout…all of which will put a serious spanner in the works. The same goes for overload weeks. Overload weeks have to be followed by an underload week. This is especially important as you “taper”.
If you are running and cycling the correct equipment is of vital importance, especially when you start to increase the mileage. Running shoes need to suit your feet, the way the rest of your body moves and level of training, it is important to get some advice from a running specific store when buying shoes… and remember they don’t have unlimited Km’s in them and need to be replaced after around 800kms (depending on the shoes and your weight).
It is wise to buy your new pair before the old ones are too worn out so that you can overlap use and wear them in. Poor/incorrect shoes often cause knee pain, shin splints and back issues just to name a few.
Bikes need to be setup correctly and according to your flexibility. Cycle specific setups are preferable to the bike shop setups as even 1cm on saddle height; handle bar height; saddle horizontal position can mean the difference between a comfortable ride and an injury such as knee pain, ITB, back pain.
Your saddle type should also fit your anatomy and cycling shoes with cleats are definitely friendlier to your body. Even if you are spinning or Watt Biking regularly, cleats will reduce many niggles and enable a more efficient pedal stroke. Correct bike setup not only reduces injuries but ensures that the time you spend training is most efficient and effective.
If you are just starting out advice on gearing and pedal stroke are important as this will also reduce risk of injury and enable you to be more efficient.
Mindful of lifestyle and nutrition
Remember that your lifestyle when you are not busy training will affect how well you are able to train and your risk of injury. The following factors must be considered:
So what allows elite sportsmen to train as hard as they do and as frequently as they do?
They all follow recovery protocols some options here are:
- Post exercise stretching (yes we all hate it but it’s important)
- Post exercise nutrition and fluid intake
- Ice bath
- Recovery pool sessions
- Foam rolling etc
This allows the muscles to recover faster to a pre-exercise state which decreases the cumulative effect of training.
2.Nutrition – advice from a dietician who understands your needs
3. Stress levels
5. Family and work commitments
Strength and flexibility
Yes we know you need to spend all your spare time engaging in your chosen discipline(s). But you also need to ensure that you have the correct tools for the technique.
Flexibility and strength training should have a place in your program as these will play an important part in reducing injury AND improving performance.
Our practice has a combined wealth of knowledge in these areas as well as an excellent network of coaches and professionals that we refer to. As much as we are here to help with treatment and rehabilitation after injury we also believe that it is important to prevent injuries by educating our patients so that they can achieve their goals. We will be running a screening clinic free of charge to all our patients and non-patients.
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