It is my least favorite time of the year. I start to get sad as our pro baseball players prepare to leave for spring training. I will miss these friends, but this time of year is also difficult because they are cranky, anxious, and just tired from a challenging off-season. Other than the occasional verbal argument, we can clearly see their fatigue and negative temperament from their force plate testing as well.
While it is easy for experienced coaches to observe, it always helps to have objective numbers to identify fatigue and a subsequent plan on how to reduce it.
The Definition of Fatigue and How to Reduce
Fatigue is the inability to maintain the same level of mechanical output, more specifically, a reduced capacity to produce force. So fatigue really sets in immediately during exercise, as your ability to produce ground reaction force (GRF) is incapable of being replicated at the same, initially high level. So our goal should not be to eliminate fatigue, an impossible feat, but rather reduce it.
We have previously discussed the 3 major avenues to reduce fatigue in your sport.
- Practice your sport, the more efficient your skills become, the less energy used
- Rest more, as motivation and desire are the chief components of endurance, not physicality
- Train explosively with less rest, density training
As we plan in-season training programs for our players, as well as the athletes within the Colorado Rockies organization, we cannot just reduce fatigue without the negative consequences of density training (i.e. soreness) so must seek an alternative.
Restore the Movement Pattern to Reduce Fatigue
The best way to restore functioning, whether through fatigue or injury, is movement. Because the benefit of movement is not just structure, the growth of muscles and connective tissue, but more importantly it is sequencing, or your movement signature. Your ability to coordinate your movements can be drastically affected due to fatigue.
A 2013 January study out of the University of Lisbon examined the effects of fatigue from vertical jumping because of its universal application from reliance on the stretch-shortening cycle. During fatigue, the authors found that the ankle and knee reduced their contribution, while the hip moments increased its participation.
This study agrees with our observations and those of our partners that are using the force plate technology. For example, Kansas Basketball has found LOAD to be reduced during periods of heavy training or competition. These observations occur because the LOAD of force is predominantly achieved by the ankle and knee joints.
How to Restore Fatigue
As mentioned above, restoring your the movement signature is the best way to reduce fatigue. We suggest using the 1 leg squat or push press to help restore the movement signature from fatigue, because of their primary effect on LOAD.
Remember it is not the movement or exercise name, but the precision of execution. Shown below is a squat, the one on the left uses the ankles and knees which will help restore LOAD, but the squat on the right, while heavier, will do little to help LOAD because of the excessive reliance on the hips, shown by the lack of shin angle from pushing the knees forward past the toes. So restore your the movement signature to reduce fatigue, but also avoid aspects that make it worse such as flush runs, or any prolonged exercise.