Recovery from Intense Training

I hope that someone can give me some advice. I coach a 23 year old sprinter who has been in my squad for nearly 4 years. He is not powerfully built but has reasonable elastic strength (4bounds + jump 13m.05cm) and has good leg speed. In 2003 he pb’d with 11.00 and 22.2, in May 2004 when looking sharp he suffered an adductor tear while running the 3rd rep in a set of 30m sprints from a tripod start. In May 2005 he pulled his hamstring during a race. Both injuries severely affected his race seasons. In January this year he pulled the same hamstring while running a 30m sprint off a 30m running start. This followed 5x30m sprints 3-4 min from a tripod start and an 8 minute set recovery. Having recovered well with treatment he pulled his other hamstring 3 weeks ago but not as badly and he is back striding. The week leading up to the last injury is as follows.

Wed 2x7secs + 2x6secs indoors with good recoveries.
Thu Recovery Tempo
Fri Rest
Sat Rest
Sun Weights
Mon Recovery Tempo
Tues 4x100m 90% off 10m running start 8min
ran in 10.7 10.7 10.6 10.8

Wed Recovery
Thu 5x30m 2x40m Hamstring pulled on 4th 30m

I have over the years tried to balance giving him enough training to improve while keeping him healthy, unfortunately things still go wrong.

The following is what I have pencilled in for when he is fully fit again

1 Plio + Speed (plio small amount of contacts)
2 Tempo recovery
3 Weights
4 Med Ball Throws + Acceleration
5 Recovery
6 Weights
7 Rest

The aim is hopefully allowing 72 hours between sprinting sessions will allow enough recovery

I welcome your views and ideas re above and regarding training when he has races. Sunday = session 1 Saturday = 7

Many thanks in anticipation

Was he tight before these pulls? How did his muscles feel? What is going on with his form?

It sounds to me like he has something fundamentally wrong with his running style and/or he is chornically tight.

I have an athlete running similar times who up until he came to me had pulled his hamstring 3 times. We have spent 6 months working on his flexability and hip mobility and I persuaded him to invest in £10 a week of massage. We also do lots of facial release work with a shot put and he does self massage on his calves.

This season in his first race he ran a PB by 0.3 in the 100 and equalled his PB in the 200 first.

Sometimes you have to scrape together the money because no matter how much you attempt to minimise his problems in training you just can’t do it unless the athlete is pro active with thier own recovery…

Thanks TC, I take it by your reply you think the programme layout looks okay ? his technique is fine, normally very controlled. Having said that I had noticed certainly on the last time he pulled up he was forcing himself to run fast. I mentioned this to him a few days later. He said he thought he was just running it the same as the other reps but I detected some tension around the face and neck. I think he probably gets revved up when he knows he is going well and tries to force the issue trying to go a bit faster.He is always hitting good times when he gets injured. I intend in future to change the session to something less intensive if he knocks out a couple of really good reps at high intensity. He has invested in a scheme with a local sports injury clinic and is receiving massage. They have mentioned that some PNF work would help his hip mobility. I would welcome your (and Charlie’s) comments on this please.

Do you work on his flexibility (Dynamic) ?

Yes he does a Dynamic warm up including hurdle walking drills and static stretching as part of his cool down, as do all of my athletes. I have stayed away from PNF having read that it detracts from the elastic ability of the muscles stretched. Comments please…

Flexability has been discussed at length before on this forum as have the use of PNF stretches during warmup - so I’ll leave you to search for those threads (search “PNF” in Charlie’s posts). The short story is that PNF can be useful and CF does use them before running at certain points in the year (usually earlier on in prep). Personally I have found PNF stretching the hip flexors to be very beneficial to most athletes.

Ok but dynamic stretching before a workout is not used to develop flexibility, only to achieve your full range. Do dynamic stretching every morning before breakfast for 10-15 mins. This will also allow you to display your full range throughout the day - (Kurz)

Many thanks guys, can anyone reccommend particular exercises for hip extension mobility.

A few things to think about for your athlete with the injured hamstring is whether he is conditioned enough to handle to top end speed work and hard acceleration work. By this I mean taking the process through the normal stages and having associated strength and conditioning development work for hamstrings.

Also depending on lifting technique, if there is a postural weakness and the spine is put under the wrong stresses then that might also have im[plications as no dobt during the phase oyu are talking about the weights being lifted are a bit heavier.

If you look at your weekly set up (I assume you did the 6 and 7 second runs from blocks?) it was a week between these faster sessions so it still might be a case of getting more gradually used to this type of work by including more of it in smallr proportions at other sessions - as would normally be the case with a short to long programme that the acceleration type work be a key feature.

As for the PNF work then it is probably alot to do with timing that evidence suggests that before training isnt the best time to be pushing the muscles into an elongated position as it can put out the propriocetion as well as reduce the muscle tone and power output, however, post session or as part of a flexibility session it might be more approriate - again depending on the session completed and time of year! so many factors to cosider I know!!!

Thanks Tinsoldier, in response to your first observation, he has been in my group since late 2002, didn’t have any conditioning behind him so have been working on that from day one. I have realised though in the past year that more work needed to be done with all of my athletes on all of the posterior chain. And of course this is ongoing. We work on the short to long system (have done for a long time) so speed is developed each year from early winter as it was this time around. Second observation yes he had been lifting quite heavy by his standards, his technique is sound, I taught him from scratch, I will need to keep a close eye on his lifting volume when he is running fast.

The 6 and 7 secs runs were from a 3 point start. As mentioned before the session should have been within his capabilities as we build up gradually to that sort of session. Does anyone still think that is too much volume for that session ?.

Our warm ups are dynamic, but includes stretching with holds up to 10secs at a time. We include hurdle walk overs and over and unders prior to strides. Long hold stretches are performed as part of the cool down and on recovery days.

Many thanks for your comments once again and for all of the others prior to you. I take great notice of everything posted.

All hurdle walk overs help hip mobility. The GPP DVD has some good ones.

philg - in response to whether the 6 and 7 second runs are too much volume…I suppose that depends on what you are doing them for. From your post there are only 4 runs? I dont think that sounds like enough if anything! - depending on time of year - you your phase would probs have been a pre-comp or even end of specific prep phase so mybe a bit more volume would have been more suitable?

Do you do any specific posterior chain gymbased exercises? any favourites?

Thanks for that tinsoldier, it was the first time my squad had used the EIS indoor track at Gateshead. It is a much softer surface than what they are used to and we had done a fair few drills prior to the sprints so kept it to a minimum. Everyone felt their calves were a bit tight for a couple of days after that session. They are used to that track now as we use it once a week. As for posterior chain work, we have been using Good Mornings and Dead Lifts. Don’t have a Hyper Extension Machine at our gym I’m afraid. Any suggestions would be most welcome.

Thanks for your input as well TC.

Good mornings are a great exercise, but romanian dealift or stiff leg deadlift would be good to work the hamstrings with a heavier weight and can help with some tech aspects of the clean (romanians would do that best).

As for hyperextensions some suggestions might be a flat bench on boxes to give some range, additionally hamstring rolls with a swissball would be good working the hamstings from the knee while holding posture.

Rotary hip machines are also useful for driving the leg backwards into extension.

I suffered from lower body injuries and the problem was that my spine/hips were out of alignment. Take him to a chiropractor and you may be amazed.

Thanks Blinky, since his first bad hamstring injury he has been checked out by a practioner dealing in Biomechanics. He has been running with a slight orthotic as he had a slight abnormality. Touch wood he is okay at the moment and is competing tomorrow. Have been working on getting him to relax more when running at high intensitires. He recieves massage to help him. I do take your point though. One of my other male athletes has been having problems for a while and running badly. Took him to see my Osteopath and he is starting to see improvments. His problem is in his back and the hip rotators.

Well he ran well until 95m then strained his adductor, the opposite one to the one he injured 3 years ago, still ran 11.21, was on course for sub 11 for the first time. Going to get a second opinion from my Osteopath, something aint right.

My athlete has been given a 2nd opinion by someone I know personally and trust. He has a problem with the alignment of his pelvis which has caused tightness in an SI joint. This is the likely cause of muscle spasm at top speed in his adductors and hamstrings. I havn’t spoken personnaly with the therapist yet but will get the full diagnosis. He is currently performing exercises (floor and swiss ball) to eliviate the problem. The fact that we have performed stability exercises and I even brought in a Pilates instructor last September to teach stability exercises. But as I have commented to my athlete’s they have to do it I can’t do it for them. Just wondering if you guys incorporate this type of work in your sessions, if so how do you schedule this work into the weekly cycle. Look forward to your comments.

Core stability is an interesting one. While it seems to exist resolving it as a problem is pretty difficult. When there is a firing problem you can solve it pretty easily by doing a few exercises (e.g. hams firing before glutes etc) but for core “instability” well that seems to be pretty hard to solve and even when you do solve it doing simple movements it doesn’t necessarily seem to be solved during running.

In general I do prehab style work on tempo days for 20min following a fairly short (40-60min) session.

This phrase ‘firing’ really annoys me.

(Sorry TC - I don’t mean you in this … need to get this out)

Why is something not firing?

Look at the surrounding tissues and fix those problems first … THEN see if you still have the firing problem.

I was listening to a guy recently at a conference spouting on about how he fixed a famous footballers hamstring problem that a physio couldn’t becuase he ‘got his glutes firing again’…and the physio who was working on him couldn’t - he was working on a completely different thing - his adductors and psaos!!