Having this evening been to the latest FA Medical Society meeting I have written down a few of my thoughts and reflections on what was said by all of the different speakers.
Dr Bryan English- Critical Reflections on Load Management Through Specific Case Discussions
The first talk from Dr English revolved around his experiences over the years in football since the implementation of load management analysis. The key points that I took from this course were;
- No two players are the same, and by obtaining loading data and analysing this we can try and understand what stimuli are important to each player.
- “Early rehabilitation should not be led by end stage rehabilitation data”- Rehabilitate what you have in front of you at the time, not what you think you need to do.
- The ability to devise a profile of “your clubs player” is important and recruitment should be done to this model to try and ensure that players are able to fit into the training and playing style.
Dr Stephen West– How to Make Sense of Training Load Data to Guide Best Practice
Dr West has just completed his PhD looking at load and it’s association with injury prevalence within rugby union. He provided an overview of his work and explained why it is transferable to football and all other sports. These key points were;
- Load is not just physical!! There are many other elements to player load such as psychological, social and travel. These must be considered as physical load is only one small part.
- The “Athlete Monitoring Cycle” must be driven by a question, and this question will be the driving force behind the data collection and the tools used.
- “Use data to solve the problem, not find it!”
- When disseminating the collected data you must understand your end user and tailor your message to them if it has any chance of getting used.
Will Tullett- Applying Individualisation of Load Management in Practice
Will is a fitness coach working at Chelsea FC, and the theme of his talk was how can we look to individualise load management and prescription within the challenging environment of a team sport where group training is the normal.
- Can we look at our players in a high stress match environment and understand what their “go to” characteristics are. This will then help us to individualise their monitoring to what is important to help them perform.
- There are a number of challenges to truly individualising load management and these are;
- The time consuming nature of over 20 individualised programs
- Transitioning between playing and training styles with regular changes in management
- Introducing and understanding new signings
- It is much easier to limit load than to add load to a players week. Especially the problem “bench players”
Stephen McAleer– Re-Loading Following Hamstring Injury- Applying Perspectives From Track and Field to Football
The final talk of the evening was from Stephen McAleer with a focus on reloading of hamstrings following injury. This was not just an outdoor loading perspective, but also the gym based reloading of tissues following varying grades of hamstring injury. This is obviously a key area of clinical interest for myself and my key take home messages from this talk were;
- Key benefits of including sprint drills are to get the muscle functioning in it’s normal patterns and encourage contact under the centre of mass.
- The best way to load eccentrically is to sprint!! So before looking at strength markers at RTT we should be asking what sprint volumes have they done and at what level?!
- “Prepare appropriately and program diligently”
- Tendon healing and adaptation lags behind symptoms- Don’t get caught out by the problematic Grade C injuries!
I think that they key theme that ran throughout these talks was that everyone sees “load management” or “load monitoring” as different things. I think that Stephen West gave some excellent points in repeatedly stating that without a question, or ultimately a purpose to our monitoring and management then there is unlikely to be any benefit. We must look at the needs of our players and our squads and adapt our systems to them. There is no one size fits all approach to load management, we’ve got to work it out for ourselves!!