WHERE’S YOUR SUPPORT?
AVOIDING MEDICAL AND HEALTH ISSUES COMES DOWN TO BEING WELL-PREPARED AS MATT LONG DISCOVERED
IN 2014, Mo Farah tripped and incurred a heavy fall in Central Park, halfway through the New York City Halfmarathon. He did just enough to hold off the challenge of Kenyan Stephen Sambu to finish second (61:07) behind eventual winner Geoffrey Mutai, but soon after collapsed and passed out. He was taken away in a wheelchair before making a speedy recovery, blaming not only his mid-race mishap, but the chilly weather in the Big Apple. “I just tried so hard in the race. I’m all right. It’s not a big deal,” Farah said.
On that occasion, the implications were not medically significant. But the sports medicine consultant Dr John Rogers, a former Northern Ireland 800m and 1500m champion, says that athletes of all levels should be aware that such occurrences might be a warning sign of deeper problems. Speaking at the
BMC Conference recently, Rogers described how “the fine line” between peak performance and illness or injury including training and lifestyle factors which facilitate Adaptation (A) and that which result in Maladaptation (M).
The difference between these two binaries is summarised in the table on the right. “Of course, training induced fatigue and sometimes functional over-reaching is healthy when at a training camp for instance,” Rogers says.
“And part of our role as a sports science and medicine team, is to try to prevent or rectify the approach of an athlete who is suffering with non-functional over-reaching or who may be encountering underperformance problems or overtraining syndrome (OTS).”
The prevention of OTS
Rogers said there is no single marker to detect the early signs of OTS and emphasised it is usually the result of a complex interplay of factors. “It’s a combination of assessing performance, physiology, biochemical, immunology and psychological markers,” he said. “Some of our work involves addressing nutritional deficiencies amongst athletes and typical culprits include relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S), rron, vitamin D, magnesium and protein deficiencies.” However, the four-fold nature of common training errors can he stressed, be useful in helping athletes to self-reflect.
Has the volume of my training suddenly increased by more than 5% from one week to the next?
Has the intensity of my training dramatically increased rather than it being effected incrementally?
Is my training too monotonous and at risk of not helping me to achieve the progressive overload associated with improved performance?
Am I in danger of overcompeting and risking a decline in my long-term performance?
Biomechanical Overload Syndromes
Often, biomechanical assessment is needed during rehabilitation to prevent recurrence of injuries. Rogers, a Manchester-based consultant who now works as Chief Medical Officer to British Triathlon, explained the prevalence of biomechanical overload syndromes.
“Common problems we confronted with runners include Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, Iliotibial Band Syndrome and less commonly Chronic Exertional Compartmental Syndrome and athletic groin pain,” he said.
Unlike Mo Farah you may not have ready access to a sport science and medicine team, but you can challenge yourself to appropriately seek and draw on knowledge from physios, doctors, nutritionists, physiologists and psychologists working in sport. In other words, Rogers stressed: “You need to develop your own network of support.”
Mo Farah: fell in the 2014 New York City Half-marathon and collapsed afterwards