Helping football injury rehabilitation through treadmill technology

Today more than ever, the topics of injury prevention, medication and rehabilitation are at the heart of medical sports research. Sports clubs around the world are investing considerable resources, demanding an increase in quality and speed for the care of the athlete.
Getting injured during a sporting activity, and more specifically during running, is a common event for athletes all over the world: particularly in football, where the injury rate per game varies from 5% to 20% per season. Therefore, minimising the rate of accidents associated with running and the so-called RTP - ready to play -  rate, or the number of days an athlete needs to be able to resume full sport activity, is one of the main objectives of every expert in the fitness world.
As a result, knowledge sharing is becoming increasingly popular. In the first months of 2018, many major events were held to present the results of the latest research in the world of sports injuries. Among others, the Get Together Conference in Amsterdam with fitness, health and movement professionals from all over the world; FIFEX, a networking event held in Antalya, Turkey, dedicated to all aspects of football, including medicine; and ISOKINETIC Conference 2018, held at the Camp Nou in Barcelona and dedicated to the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of football injuries.

What happens after a football injury?

The first question to ask as soon as an athlete has suffered an injury is: what variables should be considered to allow the athlete to return to the field after an injury? The variable to consider immediately is the nature of the injury, which can be traumatic or cumulative. Subsequently, other variables to be considered are the type of injury - i.e. whether it is a muscle or joint injury, the importance of the injury and the injured area.

With this in mind, it is possible to outline a recovery plan, bearing in mind the time elapsed between the injury and the start of rehabilitation, in which the frequency and quality of the training plan can be established.

The analysis of post-injury muscle adaptation is fundamental for the delineation of the recovery plan. The body adapts to the injured part, changing the mechanical behaviour of the muscles, increasing the stiffness of the injured muscle and modifying the bodyweight distribution. This change has effects in the short and long term. At the beginning, this behaviour is an involuntary body gesture not to experience pain. In the long term, however, muscle adaptation decreases the potential of the body to distribute weight, or decreases its variability.

You don't learn to run; you begin

It may seem a tautology, but it is important to highlight what “running” means. Running is a high-intensity and innate movement: therefore, you don't learn it over time, but you start performing it from your first steps. However, this does not mean that the style of running is perfect from birth, or that there is only one type of running for each type of physical activity.
We can represent the mechanics of running as a bouncing ball. When the ball is lifting from the ground, part of the energy created by the movement is transformed into elastic energy. In the returning phase to the ground, a substantial part of the energy is reverted to the system by the kickback, and the ball thus loses energy. In running, this loss of energy is compensated by mechanical energy (given by our muscles), which keeps the whole system moving.
The method in which we put energy into the race determines the pace we'll have. We can run to save energy - like in the case of metabolic and long distance running, to produce power when we want to accelerate, sprint and change direction, or we can make a mix between the two styles of varying intensity. In this case, the athlete's goal is to make his race more efficient, minimizing energy consumption in the metabolic phase and maximizing the propulsive force.
Football is a perfect example of this last running style. In fact, we face two different tasks: being economical and saving energy when running at low speeds (transition run), and being able to produce the maximum amount of force in a very short time - Power - when a sprint or a dash are required.

Essential parameters for running

The different running styles and methods are directly related to the way in which we get injured. In order to prevent injuries and guarantee a healthy and efficient race for the athlete, it is therefore necessary to correct the imperfections in the various types of race. In order to do this as accurately as possible, it is necessary to have universal measurement parameters.
Ground contact time and flight time
In order to have an efficient style of running means to have a correct relationship between the two parameters, according to the type of run carried out. For longer runs the flight time is higher, while for sprints and accelerations it is lower. Football, with two highly intermittent running styles, requires very high control of these two parameters to avoid injuries to the ligaments and joints.
Stride and cadence
The stride is the width of the step taken by the athlete. The stride is closely related to the pace cadence. A cadence closer to the optimal one is the one in which energy costs are minimal. More experienced athletes tend to find their cadence naturally, both when they are tired and when they are not.
Since our body is naturally asymmetrical, we all have a tendency to distribute weight unevenly. Changing this bad attitude will help to make your ride more efficient and save energy and oxygen consumption.
Being able to control these parameters is fundamental in rehabilitation and injury prevention. If before it was possible to analyze them during specific sessions in the laboratory, now you can monitor them with portable devices. However, these generate valid data only during the post - workout phase. In order to monitor the fundamental parameters during the race, Technogym presented SKILLRUN and its WATT power monitoring system.

Improve your race with SKILLRUN

SKILLRUN is the ideal solution for high-intensity sports training and post-accident rehabilitation.

SKILLRUN offers specific functions aimed at achieving ideal efficiency and propulsive force. These features are possible thanks to the reading of biofeedback parameters (where WATTs can be viewed in real time) and more specifically to the cadence training. This type of workout is designed to train the ability to run at different rates while maintaining a constant speed, thus improving neuromuscular control.

The ability to receive real-time race data allows the athlete and the coach to quickly adapt the running style, as well as perform numerous endurance, strength, speed and agility tests. In fact, SKILLRUN technology offers specific programs to increase endurance, thanks to Sled Training, to improve speed through parachute training, and to improve your coordination and agility with Cadence Training.

In conclusion, with SKILLRUN Technogym offers a pioneering training system, revolutionary and suitable both for improving sports performance for athletes of all levels, and for rehabilitation from field and training injuries.

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