Training and staying injury free

Training means muscular damage, and then growth. Training hard maximises growth, but can also increase the injury risk. Here we discuss how to maximise training benefits, and hopefully minimise injury risk.

To advance your training you must use progressive overload.

This means increasing reps, sets, exercises, weight or even range of motion, to make the exercises more difficult to stimulate more muscle growth. Fundamentally muscles grow from being stimulated, creating micro-tears in the fibres and then rebuilding bigger and stronger. However, this bigger, stronger muscle requires an even larger stimulation to damage it enough to grow – hence progressive overload.

This means for the muscles to grow they must be put under a stress they have not previously been put under. They must experience sufficient stress to grow, but not so much stress that you are causing widespread damage, potentially damaging your joints, ligaments and tendons.

There is a fine line between the optimal amount of damage and over-damaging the muscle.

The graph below shows there is a Bell-Shaped Curve of Pain and Training benefit. To begin with the more pain you are putting yourself under when training the more benefit you, and your muscles will get. After a certain point this additional pain begins to negatively impacts your training, leading to joint, tendon and ligament damage and significantly increasing recovery time.

Listen to your body.

It is essential to listen to your body, see how each body part is feeling. If you start getting pains in your elbow tendons or wrists, take a break, change exercise or even stop.

Don’t workout for too long.

As the muscles get weaker your body relies more on ligament and tendon strength; blast your muscles in around 1 hour and then begin your recovery.

Proper nutrition is key.

Once you have damaged the muscle fibres your body needs protein and carbohydrates to recover. Protein is broken down into amino acids and used to repair the muscle fibres. If your nutrition is inadequate they will not be able to recovery properly. If you train frequently this will increase the risk of injury as you are training with muscles that are still trying to repair themselves.

Good sleep is imperative.

Your body does most of its repair and recovery when you sleep. Ensure a solid night’s sleep with a good source of protein with dinner so your body has the amino acids ready to repair the muscles overnight.

Lastly: understand injury is inevitable.

To keep advancing your training you must ‘push the boat out’ further and further. This means crossing lines you have never previously crossed, entering dangerous territory for growth. By definition to shock and damage the muscles you must enter un-entered territory. Whether it’s a small niggle in your shoulder, or some elbow overuse, injury in some form is inevitable. So be smart, take it easy, rest up, and if you have to train, train around it.

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