Less is more
As a therapist, so much emphasis should be placed on the athlete understanding their body better. As we have discussed previously, any responsible therapist will look to integrate a tailored exercise program for each of their athletes. Before continuing, let us just break that sentence down further as the wording was deliberate. Integrating the exercise in to the athlete’s routine is the only way they have a chance of working. Be cautious when told to do 3 x 10 repetitions of an exercise each day. I say this as most of the time this number has no bearing on you or your ability to perform the task unless you demonstrated the full 3 x 10 repetitions and were fatiguing and just starting to lose form as you hit the 29th or 30th repetition. – The chances are you didn’t demonstrate the 30 repetitions to your therapist and the number was given as an easy ‘try and do 30’ approach. The problem with this is that the 30 probably aren’t appropriate and you have not bought into the process meaning the likelihood of following through is slim. Point being, if exercises are not integrated into your routine, such as “this must be done as your warm up before every run” or “every time you send a text message you need to engage x muscle”, then it isn’t going to carry over into meaningful improvement.
At this point you are probably wondering why this blog is titled ‘Less is more’. Well despite the first point of integrating exercises into routine, often our drive to return from injury as quickly as possible leaves us unable to focus on the big picture. How many athletes when told to do X number of exercises or drills, think if I do X plus 1, I’ll get back quicker or stronger? The problem with trying to outsmart your body is that often, it is one step ahead. By jumping to an advanced exercise for example, all that likely will happen is the bigger stronger muscles will over compensate, meaning the goal of strengthening a smaller more isolated group with be less effective. So often, less repetition of the specific quality movement pattern is what your body needs to start re-training movement patterns needed to avoid injury and improve performance. Furthermore, if a muscle group is weak or under-recruited, then it will fatigue quicker if you are in fact isolating properly.
With the above in mind, my final point is that to ensure you are performing and training at a level that pushes the limits but in a safe way, the overwhelming view in high performance nowadays is that the tri-factor approach of Athlete-Coach-Therapist, is the gold standard. As we have spoken about, set up your training environment to yield success. In our junior-elite program we screen our athletes multiple times per year and more importantly, look to integrate findings into their strength training. This only works because of the close relationship between coach and therapist, and the trust the athlete invests in both. – A great example of this was one of our juniors who we recently pulled from racing a local track meet, much to her disappointment, but who then went on to win her next national triathlon race 3 weeks later once her body had the time it needed to recover.
Trust in the process and trust in your coach and therapist who should be dynamically tailoring your training and rehab to your ongoing performance.