It’s the time of year that many athletes are starting pre-season and trying to create a base of fitness for the upcoming season or adding an extra dimension of endurance to their competitive performance.

Recreational athletes are preparing for the summer swim classics and runs whilst beach goers are looking to shed some well-earned winter kilos.

Commonly, at CSSM we see a number of frequent stress (or overuse) injuries. Below is a list of common stress injuries from varying sports:

  • Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (running)
  • Navicular Stress Fracture (running)
  • Patellar Tendinopathy (jumping sports – basketball, volleyball)
  • Proximal ITB (Ilio-Tibial Band) Friction Syndrome (cycling)
  • Suprapinatus Tendinopathy (swimming)

These are generally caused by overloading the body’s tissues, causing failure (or injury) due to poorly managed training volumes or workloads.

Workload involves four components – mode, frequency, intensity and duration. The ability of an athlete to tolerate a specific workload will be completely different for each person in each sport.

Mode refers to the type of activity that is conducted. This may be a particular leg (eg. – cycle) for multi-sport events (triathlon) or it might a skills, weights or fitness sessions for skill based sports (ie. – netball or football).

Frequency describes the number of sessions that are undertaken in a week.

Intensity is purely how hard an athlete works in a session. Quite often this is monitored by the amount of time that you spend training above a specified percentage of your maximum heart rate. One of the most reliable measures has been shown to be an athlete’s Perceived Rate of Exertion. Rated on a Borg or Visual Analogue Scale. This is a measure that anyone can perform.

Duration is our final descriptor, which depicts how long a workout will go for.

There are two extra components that we should elaborate on before we answer the title question!

Volume and specificity

Volume is the amount of training completed over a specified period of time whilst specificity is a reference to how closely the training replicates the sport or activity the athlete is training for.

So, all of these factors will relate in some way to overuse or stress injuries. Generally, the key factors that will put an athlete at risk of injury is inadequate recovery from training sessions through:

  • Not enough recovery between training sessions (or too greater frequency)
  • Excessive intensity of a training session
  • Prolonged endurance

The last two points are more to do with increasing the training load inappropriately.

The fundamental point of the above descriptors of training workload is to monitor and gradually increase training demands of an athlete without risk of injury.

Alternatively, periodise an athlete’s training program to accommodate high competition loads or high training loads.

This realm of training workloads and determining the appropriate breakdown of mode, intensity, frequency, duration, specificity and volume belongs to coaches and sports physiologists or sports physiotherapists.

So unless you have your coaching accreditation or Sports Physiology/Master of Sports Physiotherapy degree then the blame for stress injury resides with those setting your programs.

Feel free to pop in sometime to discuss your training workload here at CSSM.

Happy training,

Luke Pickett.

Sports Physiotherapist.