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Overtraining in Sports pt. 2… Specific Sport Examples

In the first introduction blog, I made the point that over training is an epidemic and that many coaches go the “more is better” route, quantity over quality, whether on purpose or by accident. We also covered five common signs of over training. As a reminder, the five mentioned were fatigue, muscle soreness, forgetfulness, lack of motivation and injuries. Each sign could come at different times so understanding them and addressing them when they arise is crucial to the longevity and successfulness of training.

It is important to analyze briefly the common occurrences happening Here are a few specific examples of overtraining in sport:

Example 1: Youth Soccer

The injury rate in youth soccer is steadily increasing. In my experience, knee injuries seem to be the most common but I’ve read numerous researches pointing to concussions. In my facility, Functional Muscle Fitness, we have rehabbed numerous young female athletes, ages 15 or younger, from knee trauma. ACL rehab and dealing with Osgood schlaughter diagnosis’s have become all too common. The problem is not the actual soccer participation itself but the volume of soccer and additional running they are engaged in. The volume is higher than their muscles can handle. Soccer, in nature, is a short range of motion (ROM) ballistic style sport, which requires high impact. As a result, there is significant requirements of tendon and ligament strength. If we negate the strength development by adding more ‘private’ sessions in we are only asking for more injuries.

I will dive in to this more during blog three but for now here is a general summary:

- ACL tears, non-contact, are becoming far too common

- Osgood schlaughter, an overuse injury that affects the front of the knee region; patella tendonitis and jumpers’ knee are other names. The first major mistake made is simply throwing a knee strap on and continuing to play. The second major mistake is taking 2 weeks off to let the pain subside and then return back to training expecting the pain not to come back

- Instead of seeking so many extra training sessions to improve sport performance… focus on the vessel that allows you to enhance your skills.

Example 2: MMA

Mixed Martial Arts is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. The pros of this growth include more training locations, higher quality equipment and more research on the sport. The cons include posers, more training locations and too much training. A typical fighter trains stand up, which is usually Muay Thai or Kick Boxing; ground work, which is usually wrestling and/or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ); sparring, which is usually full contact or near full contact; conditioning, which is usually running; and now strength & conditioning, which consists of weights and other functional training. A typical day consists of a morning session, afternoon session and evening session. Fighters and coaches alike feel that learning all the numerous art forms through high volume training is critical in order to become a better fighter. A training camp is usually 8-12 weeks in duration where fighters cram in as much training as possible. At the end of the training camp this leaves them battered, fatigued, broken down and suffering through numerous injuries; common injuries include elbow joints and tendons; shoulder tears; knee ligament tears; and lower back injuries, particularly the QL of the lower back. All the awkward positioning and extreme fatigue leads to injuries on a weekly basis with little to no recover time. So where is the line drawn between too little, enough and too much?

I will dive in to this more during blog four but for now here is a brief general summary:

- More training means more volume, learn to work between high intensity / low volume versus low intensity / high volume training… there is a middle too

- You can’t train 3 times per day everyday… learn to listen to your body and take time

- During training camps get soft tissue work done weekly or bi-weekly

- Strength train 3 times per week minimum and include auxiliary work

Example 3: Swimming

To be blunt… swim coaches believe that volume is golden even though it often leads to lack of motivation and injury. Training usually consists of 2-3 hours per session and often they perform more than 1 session per day! In my experience, the most common injuries are found in the hips and shoulders as a result of high volume. In fact, besides synchronized swimming, one might go out on a limb and categorize swimming as the most labor-intensive sport. The fact that gravity is not a factor allows coaches to require, even rationalize, excessive amounts of training.

Dryland training, the term used for strength & conditioning, is not implemented to prevent or rehab those injuries but rather add additional volume to the over exhausted musculoskeletal system. Sport coaches often attempt to have movements replicate strokes in the water while they are on land. This “movement specific” training often leads to altered mechanics and overuse to weakened areas on the body.

I will dive in to this more during blog five but for now here is a brief general summary:

- The best way to be a sprinter is not by focusing on swimming multiple sprints fast, in short amounts of time

- Dryland training is not movement replication on land

- You can over train in water, despite not having gravity in play

In the next blog I will suggest solutions to these specific examples and how to avoid this overtraining epidemic. I use the term epidemic because overuse injuries in sports are wide-spreading and far too common.

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