Injuries and Prevention


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  This a special time to celebrate the act of gratitude for all we have, seen and unseen.

First of all I would like to say that I did not get enough responses to the question about the best between meal snacks to award a winner. I did get a couple of suggestions regarding what to use during workouts to keep hydrated and good energy. Grape Juice, and coconut water were two suggestions.

Injuries and Prevention

I would like to cover a subject that is as the forefront of most master athletes and even younger athletes as well. The key is prevention, prevention, prevention.

I will talk about my methods of prevention. In another post I will talk about what to do if I am injured and the process of recovery.

Probably the most important part of training is increasing my volume and intensity very slowly. Every-time I get hurt it usually stems from this facet of my training. I realize I am a very motivated person. I tend to go overboard. My ego tells me I can do it. My body responds differently. I have goals that help drive me. The key is to not let the ego and the goals drive me too much that I go overboard.

I keep track of my workouts. This is essential. I always have a record and know where I am. I know how much I run, cycle, what my last interval set looked like. I keep track sometimes using heart rate as a measure. Sometimes it is the relative effort. On a scale of 0-10 I rate my effort. When I do weights, I keep track of the weight, sets, reps, time, etc,

With this baseline I can be careful to increase very gradually. The second component is taking into account my present overall feeling at the moment of effort. How do I feel today, right now. Everyone has a normal built-in biological cushion when our brains tell us to back off before we hurt ourselves. My job as an athlete is to make that cushion as small as possible. I strive for that physically, mentally, and emotionally. That is part of my training too. I know in my gut when I have it and when I don’t. It takes time to learn this so be patient. I use my ithlete measurement in the morning as additional feedback to gauge how hard I can go today.

Overall body strength is important. I lift weights that help my entire body, not just what I need for skating, etc. This helps my overall bone structure, ligaments and tendons. This is probably my next best prevention. This what I do on a macro scale.

On a micro scale, or what do I do in a particular workout? First, I warm up thoroughly before any hard effort. I like to run or bike for about 10 minutes even before I stretch. My muscles, tendons and ligaments are like rubber bands. If I stretch cold rubber it will tear and break. So I get up to an operating temperature first. Then I do some dynamic (moving) stretching for a few minutes to get full range of motion only. Then I do some static stretching. For these stretches I only hold for about 10 seconds. Again only for full range of motion. Then onto the workout. Most people do not work hard enough to get benefit from the intense work, and do their easy work too hard to make it recovery work. My work is very intense, or recovery. Anything else for me is counterproductive.

After the hard work, I must cool down. I usually build up a great deal of lactic acid during my intense training. I need to flush now. On the bike for a minimum of 20 and usually 30 minutes. Heart rate is low (110), for me this is a recovery or flush work. Then I do my static stretching routine. These stretches are held for 30 seconds to increase flexibility as much as possible. I have found this is a great injury preventer. If I have to shorten my time of training I will never skimp on the warmup process or cool-down. These are essential elements that cannot be compromised or I will pay the price later.

So in between my intense work I do recovery work. This for me is stationary bike at low (110) heart rate for an hour and static stretching after.  Sometimes recovery work can be a massage, a walk, easy jogging, yoga, easy swimming, sauna, cold tub, etc. Find what works for you.

I also roll my legs with “The Stick” every night after training and before bed for recovery. This is a device that substitutes for a massage. This helps recovery overnight for the next day. I also try to get a massage every week as well.

I would like to hear from you about your ideas and routines for injury prevention. Let share our ideas!!! Tell me what works for you!

One day after Knee surgery July 2009, 3 months before US Olympic trials.

7 thoughts on “Injuries and Prevention

  1. I can share a few thoughts… the most common injury for us youth challenged skaters (especially the sprinters) seems to be groin pulls. Biggest advice I can offer is: NEVER let somebody talk you into doing starts without proper preparation and warm-up. For a workout with starts, preparation time (warm up, stretching, easy skating, etc.) is nearly 1 hour. It looks very much like the preparation I’d go through for a race day.

    The other word of caution I’ll offer has to do with Achilles Injuries. There are at least 3 of us (Greg, Vince, and myself) on the (~20 person) MAT1 team who have had total Achilles ruptures. Statistically, that’s just off the chart. My theory is: skaters develop crazy strong legs and lower back- but using proper (push through the heels) technique, we don’t build really strong calves. So, we get off the ice and the calf/Achilles becomes the weak link in the chain, susceptible to injury. Now that I’m nearly done with recovery and rehab- I’m committed to building up and maintaining my calves and Achilles with a dedicated weightlifting program, for as long as I continue to skate.

  2. Awesome post about injury prevention. In reality you need to get an injury, and then learn from that mistake, so you won’t do that again. Usually it’s not warming up properly, or doing way to much, before building a base before doing hard efforts. It’s amazing how you came back from that injury Bruce, Thanks

  3. Hi Bruce, I am interested in your use and the benefit received from the “Stick.” Before, during and after time on the ice, I always seem to be pressing out muscle stiffness in my leg. While it could be many things, this tool might be a quick way to address the tightness before an injury and when there is no time for a more full massage. It never gets better by merely ignoring it.
    And, is this a common item found in any exercise equipment area of a store? Recommended brand?

    Thanks for any direction,
    Jeffrey

  4. Jeffrey, Thanks for your comment. I use “the stick” before bedtime to help my recovery. According to my massage therapist this is a very effective use. I have seen others use it to loosen up before getting on the ice during their warm-up and even during ice time between sets. We are all different and need to figure out what works for us. You can find it online at http://www.thestick.com and at specialty running stores. I do not know of any other brands. Hope this helps, see you on the ice soon. Bruce

    • Hi Bruce and Jeffrey,

      I have been a Stickuser since 1994 ( competitive runner) and have been working fulltime for the manufacturer of The Stick ( RPI of Atlanta) since 1997. Reason: I love what The Stick does for my muscles and I love to help others. I have been selling The Stick at 40+ expos annually since 1997 and have found equally and more impressive results with our customers that use The Stick. Use The Stick before and after every one of your workout and at the beginning of the day, as well as the end of the day. You will find your tight / sore muscles with ease and will notice a marked improvement in less than 30 seconds per muscle group. You will also gain a much better understanding of your muscles, can prevent many injuries and recover much, much faster. There’s a reason that The Stick is used in most NFL, NBA and MLB teams, as well as the 4 major US Olympic Training Centers, as well as in Mayo Clinic ( Physical Therapy Department) and hundreds of other hospitals. You can obtain The Stick at http://www.thestick.com

      Bruce, you wrote a very nice and comprehensive article. Keep up the great work!

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