Training load is essential to athletic performance.
Without a progressive load (and overload) being applied to muscles, tendons, ligaments & bones there is no training effect. A training effect is gained by putting stresses on bones and soft tissues, forcing them to adapt and change.
It is these changes which make athletes faster, improve their strength and endurance, and ultimately improve performance. Load is applied through sports specific training, cross training and gym work. The types of load on different tissues will differ based on the activity. (ie swimming loads muscles and tendons, but not bones…)
If not enough load is applied, there is no training effect, or the effect is less than optimal. When an optimal load is applied, the maximal possible changes occur leading to improved performance.
When load is excessive, overuse injuries may result, and further training has less positive effect than it would otherwise have.
Different tissues within your body adapt to training load at different speeds, and this should impact the choice of rate of progression of exercise for each athlete. Similarly, the “optimal load” is different for every athlete. If you take a team of footy players, and make them all do exactly the same amount of training, some will not be working hard enough to get optimal effect, some will have an optimal training load, and some will “break down”. This may present as ongoing soreness which affects their ability to complete subsequent planned training sessions, specific soft tissue injuries or stress fractures of bone.
In football we often tend to think “one week at a time”, but this is not the best way to plan training load. Load needs to be gradually progressed with cycles of higher and lower training load over a period of several years to allow athletes to meet their full potential.
This requires a balanced, individualised approach based on a partnership between coaches, athletes and training staff. The Physiotherapy staff at Corio Bay Sports Medicine Centre are experts, and can help individuals and teams work through this complex issue.