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Load Management and COVID-19

Load management is a popular and sometimes contentious topic amongst health professionals, trainers and sporting institutions. Debates range from how much is too much, how do we effectively track and monitor loads and how do we best manage loads. I think the one thing that is agreed on is that too much too quickly can be associated with injury and poor performance.

Some of you may have heard of the term load, but what does it mean?

Well, load is referred to as the accumulative amount of stress placed on an individual as the result of training (Windt & Gabbett, 2017). When we do too much too quickly this is called overload. Overload is an imbalance between load and recovery which can cause prolonged fatigue and abnormal training responses, increasing the risk of injury and illness (Soligard et al., 2016). See image below.

Now some of you may be wondering, that is great but what does it have to do with COVID. Well the disruption that COVID has had on fitness facilities, gyms, sporting groups and institutions has resulted for most people in a huge reduction to their usual loads. With the easing of restrictions, the return of some sporting codes and the reopening of gyms and fitness facilities many people with be eager to return to life as usual. This is where if not done progressively and managed well overload and injury can occur.

I predict that if people return to their same level and capacity that they were undergoing pre-COVID that we will see a spike in injury rates. I would therefore encourage those returning to sport, gyms and fitness in general (which I hope is everyone) to build up slowly and if you are unsure seek the assistance of a suitably qualified coach, trainer or health professional to guide you with your fitness goals.

I wish everyone the best of luck with all of their health and fitness goals, be safe, enjoy the freedom and be active!

Soligard, T., Schwellnus, M., Alonso, J.-M., Bahr, R., Clarsen, B., Dijkstra, H. P., . . . Engebretsen, L. (2016). How much is too much? (Part 1) International Olympic Committee consensus statement on load in sport and risk of injury. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50(17), 1030. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-096581

Windt, J., & Gabbett, T. J. (2017). How do training and competition workloads relate to injury? The workload—injury aetiology model. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51(5), 428-435.

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