A growing body of research has investigated the effects of training load spikes on injury occurrence. Typically, the load of a training session or a training week is compared to the mean of previous training weeks.
In this study, the weekly training load was compared to the 4- week rolling workload average, with the authors reporting that a higher A:C workload increased the odds of injury by more than 3 times. Moreover, lower TQR scores were also associated to injury occurrence. These findings reinforce: 1) the need to monitor not only absolute training loads, but also A:C workloads; 2) to interpret training load data in combination with recovery (objective and/or subjective) measures.
As I mentioned in the practical takeaways, pre-season training loads are typically higher in comparison to the in-season. Due to the limited duration of pre-season periods, sharp progressions in training loads are often observed which results in higher A:C workloads and an increased likelihood of injury. These findings reinforce the importance of training periodisation in order to gain significant adaptations and injury prevention. In order to avoid spikes in training loads and injuries during the pre-season, practitioners can adopt some of the following strategies with their players. These include:
- Educate the players to allocate some time to exercise during off-season;
- Start the first week with a half-week followed by two recovery days;
- On long pre-seasons (e.g. 10 weeks), allocate one unloading week (e.g. week 4) and a taper week (e.g. week 10). On shorter pre-seasons (e.g. 4-5 weeks), allocate a week of tapering prior to the competitive season;
- Use individual/position-specific progressions on workloads. rather than generalising the same load volume for the entire squad.