I’m an assessment guy. I do a pretty extensive assessment on everyone we train at IFAST. I do a very broad spectrum of testing because I know that there are few if any definitive tests. I also realize that when it comes to predicting potential injury, anything I do during my controlled assessment will have limited validity in certain situations.
Why? Because fatigue changes everything.
Fatigue will alter trunk muscle function and therefore balance. (1)
Fatigue alters technique. (2,3)
Fatigue changes landing mechanics and motor control that can result in ACL injuries. (4,5,6)
Fatigue measured as low aerobic power increased risk of injury for rugby players. (7)
Fatigue altered the coordination (acuity) of the entire arm of overhead throwers. (8)
It’s obvious that injuries are the result of multiple factors. We can never rely on one test or even a battery of tests if they don’t take into consider fatigue and forces similar to those that are experienced in a play situation.
So should we just ignore the whole concept of injury prevention.
No, I don’t think so. Not by a long shot.
I think the first key concept to address is to train your athletes effectively in the first place by addressing their specific needs and those of their sport.
Do they have a foundation of general physical preparation to allow them to train at an intensity that will support their performance in game situations?
Do they demonstrate sufficient mobility to perform the required activities without compensation? (Can you identify compensation?)
Do they demonstrate appropriate energy system development for their desired sport?
The next key concept to understand is that everything is an assessment. It just doesn’t stop when game starts or when the training session begins.
Watch for obvious signs of fatigue (open mouth, heavy breathing, distressed appearance, etc.) and the not so obvious (changes in technique, ability to change direction, signs of instability, etc.).
Give rest when needed (even if it’s not programmed or it’s a crucial point in a game).
Change the training program to adapt to the athletes current reserves. Nothing is written in stone and your “perfect” program may not be so for every athlete on every day.
We all want our athletes to be successful, and yes, there are times that you must push them harder than they want to be pushed to assure that they are prepared. However, you must focus on the quality of your athletes’ performance in training or in a game if you’re serious about preventing injuries.
1. J Sport Rehabil. 2008 Nov;17(4):380-6.
2. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2008 Nov;55(11):2666-74.
3. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2009 Mar;39(3):210-20.
4. Am J Sports Med. 2008 Mar;36(3):554-65
5. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Oct;38(10):1836-42
6. Am J Sports Med. 2005 Jul;33(7):1022-9
7. Am J Sports Med. 2005 Mar;33(3):428-34
8. J Athl Train. 2007 Jan-Mar;42(1):90-8
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