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How AI Helps Injury Prevention in Endurance Athletes

By Gaelle Abecassis | Nov 1, 2023

Despite their non-contact nature, cycling, running, and swimming still generate overuse and overtraining injuries. Common ailments include sprains, muscle strain, joint pain, and stress fractures. In some respects, these injuries can feel more insidious than, say, a broken bone caused by a collision on the playing field. Why? Because they don’t always feel catastrophic when they happen. As a result, many athletes push through the pain, unwilling to throw out weeks or months of productive training by stopping to heal.

Common Signs That Lead to a Future Injury

A poor training plan that demands an athlete do more volume or higher intensity than their body is ready for is one of the top paths to physical destruction. While the body is excellent at adapting to the workloads placed on it, adaptations take time to evolve. Hence, the classic progressive training plan that builds up the athlete’s endurance and strength week by week. 

Another common source of overuse injury is poor gear fit. The most advanced and highest-performance gear will do more damage than good if it doesn’t fit properly. This could mean anything from running shoes that don’t fit or support an athlete’s foot to bicycles that aren’t adjusted to maximize an efficient pedal stroke and rider comfort. An athlete will significantly reduce their injury risk by taking the time — and investing the money — to find the perfect fit.

Not warming up before an intense workout or race also contributes to injuries, specifically muscle pulls and strains. A light 5-10 minutes of activity is all it takes to prime the muscles and joints with blood flow and go. At the end of a workout, a 5-10 minute cooldown will help reduce muscle soreness and pave the way for better recovery. 

Reduced Injury Risk Through Coaching

Coaches know that they need to push their athletes to the limit and just beyond to help them reset their mental and physical awareness of what’s possible. Conversely, a coach can’t continually push athletes to exhaustion day after day. If they did, their athletes’ injury risks rise dramatically, and a coach who guides athletes to injury will quickly find themselves out of a job.

A massive part of avoiding these injuries comes from listening to the athletes. Are they tired? Are they sore when they shouldn’t be? Are they in any pain? Another guide to avoiding injury comes from monitoring athletes’ workout data. Were they able to complete the prescribed workout? Was their heart rate higher than expected? Were their watts at threshold on the bike down while perceived exertion was up? If so, these early signs indicate that the athlete has not recovered and is pushing themselves into a window where overuse injuries can occur.

The AI Assist for Training Smart

With Humango’s AI app, athletes can load their workout data into their program, let the AI crunch the results, and set up the next workout. Humango’s intelligence will prescribe a program that incorporates rest and recovery while ensuring that the athlete stays on track to become faster, stronger, and more resilient. The guesswork that can often plague a motivated athlete (Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much?) disappears. The AI-generated plan will accommodate warm-ups and cool-downs and add cross-training to shore up muscles that don’t see much use in a sport (i.e., hamstrings in cyclists).

Ultimately, Humango’s AI coach utilizes a data-driven approach to keeping the athlete on track to achieve their goal by prescribing the right amount of training volume and intensity along with the necessary amount of rest and recovery. The net result should be a successful, injury-free journey.

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Posted by Gaelle Abecassis