With intense training and competition schedules that last up to several weeks, it is possible for an athlete to gradually experience a decline in performance because of the high level of stress that is consistently placed on the musculoskeletal system.
There is also a risk of developing overuse injuries when the volume and intensity of exercises exceed the body’s capacity to recuperate and regenerate muscle force necessary for strength gains.
As described by Noce et al., the overtraining syndrome refers to an imbalance between stress and recovery, where the stressing factors of physical, psychological and social order, combined with a short recovery time, lead to deleterious effects in the athlete’s performance.
The authors advocate strategies such as the recovery-stress questionnaire for the monitoring of stress and recovery levels of each athlete in a team to maximise performance especially when the frequency of games is high.
The physiological benefits associated with the recovery period include a reduction in excessive muscle fatigue, restoration of optimal functionality and attainment of successful performance outcomes in training and competition.
While discussing the effect of recovery time on strength performance following a high-intensity bench press workout in males and females, Judge and Burke observed that the strength recovery patterns of females occurred within 4 hours and of men, only after 24 hours.
This finding reflects the prolonged time needed by males for muscle glycogen resynthesis after a strength testing session due to their greater reliance on anaerobic metabolic pathways as compared with females during resistance exercise.
Determining optimal recovery time between training sessions becomes an important consideration in designing strength and conditioning programmes, with the frequency and intensity adjusted to individual requirements for achieving maximal strength gains.
Korak et al. sought to quantify muscle recovery patterns between single-joint versus multi-joint, and upper body versus lower body exercises in addition to examining the efficacy to self-evaluate recovery using perceptual measures.
A 10 repetition maximum was determined for 6 single-joint and 4 multi-joint exercises (5 upper body and 5 lower body) for male recreational weightlifters. Participants returned for a baseline trial 5-7 days later during which they completed 2 sets of the same 10 exercises.
The protocol was replicated during two additional sessions with days of rest (either 24 or 48 hours) between the next 2 lifting sessions serving as the independent variable.
Significant differences were found for all lift type categories between 24 hours versus 48 hours; 48 hours of recovery offered a marked improvement in performance while replication of multi-joint lifts suffered more greatly at 24 hours than single-joint lifts.
Post-exercise cooling, especially whole body cold-water immersion, has been proven to improve recovery due to increased hydrostatic pressure acting on the body which raises cutaneous interstitial pressure. This causes a fluid shift from the interstitial to the intravascular space.
This could help to reduce edema and possibly secondary tissue damage while increasing intracellular-intravascular osmotic gradients to enhance clearance of waste products and improve muscle contractile function.
From a biomechanical standpoint, correction of underlying foot postural disparities with MASS4D® custom foot orthotics should serve as a precursor to the formulation of effective training programmes for athletes.
By making full contact with the plantar surface of the foot, an orthotic guides the optimal movement of the lower limbs for improvements in gait and balance in addition to re-aligning the musculoskeletal system for the prevention of overuse injuries.
This enables efficient control during static and dynamic conditions which imply a reduction in additional muscle activity and subsequent fatigue, ensuring the individual is able to maintain good form throughout performance.
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There is a high incidence of lower extremity injuries incurred by runners as a result of repetitive and cumulative trauma to the musculoskeletal system, particularly the lower leg. With the average runner striking the ground about 600 times per kilometre, there is potential for developing overuse injuries.
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