In his last article Dr. Anthony Falco discussed the opioid epidemic and how widespread it has become. This week, I intend to discuss how training itself can provide benefits that help deal with pain, and I will also breakdown use of maintenance training for athletes who either are in-season or need to recover after a long and grueling season. This can be done via extensive plyometrics, aerobic capacity work and maintenance load percentages with main movements (squats, deadlifts and bench presses).
To start, endorphins are produced by the central nervous system in response to pain or stress. That is, physical activity such as running, strength training or sports can provide endorphin release. Contrary to opioids, however, endorphins brought on naturally by the body do not create addiction or dependence. So, instead of turning to pain medication physical activity such as strength training or running can reduce pain while also riding of addictive substances that can damage the body and ultimately lead to death.
With that being said, there are some easy strategies for athletes to utilize in order to limit stresses on their body while training, but also achieve some much needed endorphin release to deal with the pains of their seasons and physical activity and the stresses of everyday life.
Extensive plyometrics are less intense and stressful plyometric exercises that are often used to perfect jumping mechanics, while also adjusting the body while it learns to properly use tendons and ligaments. Not only are these a good way to teach young athletes landing mechanics and proper use of the body while jumping, but also they can be implemented during hypertrophy cycles for athletes recovering early in the off-season or even during their respective season. Extensive plyometrics are often performed with more repetitions than their intensive counterparts, so you may find yourself performing sets of 6-8 box jumps that are significantly lower than your max jump height, but allow you to pause at the bottom of your jump and land smoothly.
Aerobic Capacity Training For Recovery
As I covered in past articles, (http://www.challengerstrength.com/blog/using-the-aerobic-energy-system-to-promote-recovery) the aerobic energy system can be used to stimulate recovery if done in certain thresholds. This would entail performing aerobic conditioning while remaining within 60-75% of your max heart rate (220-age). Using aerobic conditioning can be vital in promoting recovery and endorphin release.
Using Maintenance Loads To Reduce Physical Stress
While maintenance loads are commonly perceived as just that, “maintenance,” true gains can still be made while reducing stress. For example, I have seen athletes achieve 5-10 pound gains in their one rep max (1RM), after a 6-week maintenance cycle never exceeding 85% of their previous 1RM. For maintenance lifts I would normally stay within 70-85% of your 1RM while keeping volume similar to your strength aimed sets.
References and Useful Links
Gerry DeFilippo: ISSA CPT- CPPS, AAPS. Founder/Owner: Challenger Strength.