Training to Increase Performance and Limit Injury

Training to Increase Performance and Limit Injury

The concept of training has existed as long as humans have been humans. We can see this in the play that animals conduct when they are little, whether it is the lion cub practicing for the kill or the chimpanzee posturing and practicing for a stand off with a potential competitor.  We train in order to get ready for something that is going to happen in the real world.  Most of us train for our jobs because we want to make money and provide for our families.  Some of us train so that we will survive at the jobs that we do; this is especially the case if you work in a high risk profession, such as an oil rig worker, military operator, or law enforcement officer.  The basic reason that we train is to increase performance and limit the chance of injury.  Let’s go back in time about 2500 years or so.  In battles, Spartans could not afford to be injured.  Their lives depended on it.  If a Spartan was injured during a battle, he probably did not survive to see the end of it.  Even a minor injury such as a twisted ankle or a dislocated shoulder (well those are not that minor) could prove devastating.  Thankfully, we have progressed into a more “civilized” society and we no longer live and die by how in shape or injury free we are.  However, even today, injury prevention is the number one rule for professionals in the realm of fitness. Injuries hinder any advancement toward achievable goals, diminish motivation, and in some extreme cases make the trainer look bad.

Preventing Injuries

An injury is simply physical damage to an area of the body. Most do not take into consideration is the negative psychological effect injuries spawn in a once highly excited and motivated participant. Injury prevention is a continuing progression for all individuals. Understanding the commonality and root of injuries are a large part in developing plans that implement injury prevention strategies. Many of these strategies include fixing weak areas, correcting musculature imbalances, implementing proper movement mechanics, and constant engagement of correct posture. Application of each of these during a strength training session can greatly enhance injury prevention.

Posture and movement mechanics are the two most noticeable in the gym. Of course, taking into consideration that bad movement mechanics is usually do to imbalances, weak and tight areas that do nothing but win over poor mobility. It is important the focus on the chronic injuries versus the acute. With that said, acute injuries again, can usually be prevented with the above strategies and if an injury were to occur absolute attention should be observed toward the healing process. Most feel a small pain and push through the workout, WRONG!  Chronic injuries usually entail that the above strategies are a constant, successive issue. Without correction, degeneration of motor sequencing and muscular tissue are certain to transpire.  Many common injuries happen out of ego and ignorance. Both of these can and should be avoided. Proper technique requires correct knowledge. Then the individual must have the mobility to execute the movement. If the mobility is limited, the individual must make corrections before continuing with an improper movement. This is usually skipped, creating poor movement patterns, which lead to imbalances. Use progression in every aspect of training!

Finding the Why of Your Training

The most important question that you should ask yourself when coming up with any training program (physical or other) is to answer the why question.  Why are you doing this type of training?  Is this the best use of your time?  What is the purpose of the training and what is the end state or when do I declare that the training is accomplished?  These are important questions to ask yourself before you start the training or even plan for it.  Whatever the answer to the why question, at a minimum you should have a training plan to execute the training properly.  If you don’t, then you will be haphazardly going through motions and never seeing measurable progress.  You are more likely to stop the training or train improperly and get injured or burned out.  


This week, renew your training program.  If you don't have a training program, it is time to develop one.  Make sure you have a quantifiable goal and write it down. Find the why in your training.  Make sure that you have a date set when you will accomplish the goal.  Develop a training plan that incorporates strength training (if you are developing a physical training plan) at least twice a week.  The rest of the week, you should be practicing events that are leading up to your goal.  If you don't have a goal, then find one that supports your passions and satisfies a higher purpose.  Doing "whatever you feel like doing" for the day leads to doing what you like and often times, this leads to overuse injuries or underdevelopment of your weak points.  

Take care of yourself so you don't become a liability to your fellow Spartan!

“Lean into it!”

Travis Williams and Dr. N