Typical injuries in sports that require stamina

There are typical injuries in all kinds of sports, stamina sports are not an exception.
23.01.2017

The title could have been ‘Typical injuries of people involved in stamina sports’. There are typical injuries in all kinds of sports, stamina sports are not an exception. Not only because open water swimming could be so monotonous or entail such a high-risk as javelin throwing does, but also because civilisation diseases made their way into sports as well. It forces people into a treadmill that is clearly dangerous and bad, however, in our pursuit of success we tend to forget that rushing and forcing something is contrary to common sense. This will affect – directly or indirectly – even our physical and mental state.

Such damaging aspects are so much part of our everyday life that we consider them almost natural. For example there is the good old stress, rushing all day long, bad eating habits, insufficient intake of liquids, bad posture, sedentary work, the lack of relaxing sleep and an excess of stimuli that all contribute to injuries, which in normal conditions could be easily overcome, but due to our lifestyle – sooner or later – they will result in a collapse.

You can't get away with it

In previous articles I have already written about the complex issues of swimming in relation to triathlon racing. The gracious, seemingly effortless strokes look good, but a lot of work goes into them before you reach any good or adequately high performance in swimming. It is especially true for adults who come from other sports, but also for triathlonists since running and cycling does not help in the retention of the flexibility of the shoulder joints. You will face a lot of obstacles when you want to perform at a higher level or simply establish a basic swimming style that is correct – all for the purposes of avoiding injuries. See a list of potential dangers below:

 

  • Bad technique. It means incorrect movements or movement ideals, the lack of dynamics or the lack of external feedback. You can't learn how to swim correctly from a book. You should dedicate time and money and get an instructor to work with you.
  • Strains resulting from the use of too many pieces of equipment. It is primarily due to intensive or too long training sessions during which you use hand paddles. Separate leg, arm and single arm exercises must be developed in order to be effective.
  • Too monotonous training plan. ‘If I swim freestyle during the competition, why should I be training in backstroke?’ See above.
  • One-sided breathing. The human body is not symmetric, it automatically tends to lean towards the least resistance – where you body turns in an easier way. When you swim 200m or longer lengths ideally you should take a breath at every second stroke, provided you change the direction of the breath-taking at every length or two, no matter how terrible it feels or how slow it makes you. This way you can avoid that one side would become excessively stronger.
  • Limited range of movement. Even during swimming training it is a problem that my students can't perform a gracious, high elbow movement when swimming in freestyle. It requires an excessive amount of energy and concentration to stabilise the body, maintain the swimming rhythm and the incorrect movement also puts additional strain on certain muscles and sections of the shoulder joints. You can eliminate this problem by regularly doing mobilisation exercises and stretching as well as swimming in backstroke.

 

If we look at it in terms of a triathlon race, your upper body must be fit mostly to excel in swimming. But we all know that when you swim long distance, the advantage (or disadvantage) you accumulate in swimming doesn’t really affect the overall result. This duality could make people opt for a training plan where they don’t dedicate enough time and attention to enhance the range of their shoulder movement, stretching is ignored, but once in the pool, they get fierce and go for it really hard. They do everything they can in order to increase their performance.

It often results in one the most typical swimming injuries, Periarthritis humeroscapularis or ‘frozen shoulders’ – as it is commonly referred to.

This injury is characterised by the limited range of movement of the shoulders. The shoulder joint and the connecting tendons and strings are deformed, which can result in a stabbing pain during movement (or even at rest). That will concentrically limit the active and passive movements of the shoulder in a relatively short period of time, thus it further aggravates the problem.

What can you do when the pain is already there?

Once you notice there is pain and you are done with your pity party you should start regular treatment with ice and anti-inflammation cream, and make slow warmup movements without any weight or burden on your shoulders. As the pain diminishes you may increase the intensity, but ice treatment should always follow it. You can see a duality even here – you don't really want to move a body part when it's inflammated. However, in order to avoid the ‘freezing’ this is what you specifically need to do. So take it easy and don't be so hard on yourself.

‘If I am weak, I should work on my strength, shouldn't I?’ ‘No! You should first learn & practice the exercises.’

The basis for any high-level sports activity is a high level of coordination skills and stability. If your muscles are used at the wrong time or in the wrong order then your weak muscles will be compensated and you won’t improve in performance and execution style. If you want this improvement, you must learn first the separated then the connected movement elements in SLOW practice and you have to regularly train and develop your core muscles. Once you have a stable and strong core you will become more mobile and capable of taking in a more intensive load.

‘Keep practising. That’s the golden rule!’

In the second part of this article you can read about typical injuries of the lower body and how we can prevent and even treat them.

 

Zoltán Janota

BioTechUSA / Stamina expert / 13x Ironman


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