By Nash Anderson B.Sc. M.Chiro. ICCSP.

In the world of sports and healthcare, the term “load management” has become a buzzword[1]. You’ve probably heard some of our practitioners mention it before. But what does it mean, and how does it impact athletes and individuals engaging in physical activities and how can it cause injuries? Let’s delve into the concept of load management and explore its significance in preventing injuries and enhancing performance.

Understanding Load Management

Load management refers to the practice of controlling training loads to enhance performance and lower the risk of injury[1][2]. It’s not merely about decreasing minutes of play or reducing the intensity of workouts[3]. Instead, it encompasses a broader perspective, including how often individuals should work out, practice, travel, and other factors surrounding game minutes[4].

The Science Behind Load Management

The concept of load management is rooted in the understanding of how our bodies respond to stress[1]. When we exercise or engage in physical activities, we apply stress to our bodies. This stress, if managed correctly, this in theory can often lead to positive adaptations, improving our strength, endurance, and overall performance[1].

However, if the training load is increased faster than the body can handle, it can result in overuse injuries[2]. This is where the concept of the acute to chronic workload ratio (ACWR) comes into play[1]. The ACWR is a measure of the training stress of the current week (acute workload) compared to the average training stress over the past four weeks (chronic workload)[1]. This is a calculation that can be completed based on variables in your training such as your frequency, intensity and duration of your physical activity.

The Role of Detraining – Underactivity can be bad as overactivity

Detraining, or the physiological maladaptation to reduced training loads or physical inactivity, is another crucial aspect of load management[1]. Detraining can increase the risk of non-contact, soft tissue injury, especially when training rapidly resumes back to normal after a period of reduced activity[1].

Load Management in Practice

In the NBA, load management has been popularized by players like Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James[4]. The practice involves giving players a night off during the gruelling 82-game NBA season to preserve them for the playoffs[4]. However, the concept extends beyond professional sports and is equally applicable to amateur athletes, weekend warriors, and even sedentary office workers[1].

The Role of Chiropractors in Load Management

Chiropractors and other allied health professionals play a vital role in load management, particularly in planning a return to training following an injury[2]. They can help track, measure, and record training loads, empowering individuals to achieve the ideal training load for optimal performance and reduced injury risk[2] or co-manage with other professionals if required.

Conclusion

Load management is a critical aspect of training, whether you’re an elite athlete or someone just trying to stay fit. By understanding and applying the principles of load management, you can enhance your performance and reduce your risk of injury.

References

  1. Hughes M. Load Management Part 1: Overuse or Underprepared [Internet]. Mick Hughes Physio; 2016 [cited 2023 July 2]. Available from: https://www.mickhughes.physio/single-post/2016/03/27/load-management-part-1-overuse-or-underprepared
  2. Fairfield Physiotherapy. A Beginner’s Guide To Load Management [Internet]. Fairfield Physiotherapy; n.d. [cited 2023 July 2]. Available from: https://fairfieldphysiotherapy.com.au/beginners-guide-load-management/
  3. Gabbett T. Load Management is Not About Decreasing Minutes [Internet]. Physio Network; n.d. [cited 2023 July 2]. Available from: https://www.physio-network.com/blog/load-management-is-not-about-decreasing-minutes/
  4. Ellentuck M. Load management is the NBA’s hottest term. What does it mean? [Internet]. SBNation; 2019 [cited 2023 July 2]. Available from: https://www.sbnation.com/nba/2019/11/8/20954096/load-management-definition-kawhi-leonard-lebron-james-fines-controversy
  5. Hughes M. Load Management Part 2: The Effects of Detraining [Internet]. Mick Hughes Physio; 2016 [cited 2023 July 2]. Available from: https://www.mickhughes.physio/single-post/2016/05/19/load-management-part-2-the-effects-of-detraining
Categories: Chiropractic