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Don’t leave it too late: Train smarter not harder

The biggest problem with being involved in health is people get better.

So it is sometimes hard to get repeat business if you keep fixing people.

But the flip side is if you try and lower your moral standards and treat slower or deliberately stop people from getting better then the óìcourts of public opinionó quickly catch up with you and you find the doors permanently shut on the business.

Maintenance sessions

When we completed some business ‘number crunching’ recently, what we identified was the value of maintenance sessions.

In our business we have a number of Olympians (Both Australian and New Zealand) and Professional Ironmen/women. Because their sport is their profession they are incredibly disciplined with weekly treatments and check-ups.

When we compared these athletes to our non professional junior athletes we noticed an enormous difference in injury profiles.

Our professionals at the very worst never had to put up with an ache or pain for more than six days, given the weekly check up. So all potential injuries were dealt with in a timely fashion with very little training time missed or restriction to racing.

The non professional however generally presented to Physio a while after a minor ache or pain, in fact they generally presented with a well established injury and restriction to their movement, due largely to a period of trying to put up with the discomfort or hope that the pain goes away.

In the long run this led to the non professional coming in for treatments multiple times during the week, and then also having the issue of missed training and racing opportunities. It also created problems with re-occurrence of the injury as invariably the athlete will try and return to pre injury levels as soon as possible and try and make up for missed time away from the pool or beach…

So over the course of the year the Professional or Olympic athlete certainly came in more times for physio than the Non Professional but the figures were somewhat comparable. But the figures for missed training and competition went hands down to the non professional.

For all the money people spend throughout the year on equipment, coaching, pool entry and nomination fees, I believe a weekly or fortnightly Physio maintenance session is probably a good investment.

Some are catching on, and schedule a weekly or fortnightly massage. The only concern I have with this is a masseuse although great with their hands isn’t qualified to give you a diagnosis and so quite often could miss an overuse injury in the making or a muscle imbalance that could cause a potential problem.

Invariably people leave making an appointment until it’s too late. The longer you potentially leave an injury the worse it becomes and the harder it is to treat. Both of which combine to create conditions which make the return to training and racing harder and harder.

Remember the key to swimming faster isn’t necessarily training more, it’s training smarter. Perhaps a weekly maintenance session spent on the Physio table is just what’s been missing from your training program.

Originally published in December 2012

Nick Marshall

Nick Marshall

Nick co-owns Surf Life Physio (Gold Coast) and specialises in swimming injuries, he's also a bit of a surf swimming legend.

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