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Load Management Part II: How do we manage it?

Part 1 of this blog (LINKED HERE) delved into the definition of load management, or the balance between our external load (workouts, reps, sets, # of plates you loaded on the barbell, etc.) and our internal load (what is going on within our bodies in response to this external load, on top of our overall stress, nutrition, sleep, hydration, etc.)

One of the major factors we address in PT at Made 2 Move are the tangible ways that you can independently manage your overall load. Our physical therapists give you the tools unique to your injury that can aid in your recovery and in reaching your goals. Below are a few factors you can begin to address when considering load optimization.

Ways to manage load:

  1. Progressive and gradual exposure

    • One of the most simple ways to manage load is to gradually and progressively expose your body to previously aggravating activities, using pain as your guide. Gradual means not doing “too much too soon” and progressively means we are making exercises more challenging in orde to evoke the desired adaptations. At Made 2 Move, this is how we help our patients get back to doing what they love. Our Made 2 Move therapists will gradually expose you to greater loads, ensuring there is a balance between your external vs. internal loads. This will increase your bodies tolerance, capability, and threshold in all aspects of life.

  2. Be aware of what you’re body is telling you

    • “Training and rehabilitation are complex processes that require sufficient monitoring to ensure that performance objectives are being met. The goal of the training process is to ensure that the training is progressed at the optimal pace and that the athlete is not under or over exposed to training loads” (Morrison et. al 2017). Be in tune with the messages your body sends you, as this can serve as a guide to help you better understand both your response to external loads and the fluctuations of internal loads your body experiences. This may mean a longer warmup on days you feel drained or pushing it a little harder on days you’re feeling turbo charged.

  3. Find YOUR optimal balance of loads

    • Finding the optimal balance between load and recovery will help build more robust and resilient bodies and minds. Know that your “optimal load” may ebb and flow due to changes in internal load, so just go with it. Your optimal load may also not be the same as your workout partner, and this is normal! Whether is was Theodore Roosevelt or Ray Cummings who said it first, always remember: comparison is the thief of joy.

  4. Work on an RPE scale

    • Working on RPE, or rate of perceived exertion, helps us manage the perceptual aspect of internal load: How hard do you perceive that lift/ game/workout to be on any given day? What is a 7 one day, may feel like a 3 on another day for reasons you can identity (pre-workout bagels, 9 hours of sleep, high caffeine consumption) or for no identifiable reason at all. Working with a coach or physical therapist can help you learn how to manipulate your RPE levels to match your goals.

At Made 2 Move, we like to remind our patients that having a “meh” day at the gym is 1000% normal. Take note of what may be contributing to this by looking at the day’s sleep, stress, and nutrition. If you can point to something specific, address it. If you can’t point to something specific, then that’s okay! You get your workout in (or utilize the rest day if that’s what your body is asking for), avoid overthinking it, and move on with life.

The take home? Load is more than just the time you spend in the gym. Load goes beyond simply the sets, reps, and days you work out each week. Thus, load management is having the discipline to take a rest day when your body asks for it. It is doing the 10 minutes of prehab work before your snatches to keep your shoulders happy. It is recognizing that it is okay to have an off day for no particular reason at all. Manage your load appropriately, both inside and outside of the gym, so that you can stay out of PT!

Wrapping up:

Okay great, so if I manage the load I’m putting on my tissues, then this should solve all my problems? Of course not! Humans are more than just their tissues and movement mechanics. Load management is simply one tool in the toolbox of clinicians, coaches, and athletes to aid in accelerating injury recovery and improving overall performance.

At Made 2 Move, we will help you build up the capacity your body has for load. We will help you optimize load for YOUR individual body. By increasing your capacity for load and balancing your load:recovery ratio, you will be better able to decrease pain, accelerate recovery, improve performance, and dial into any other health related goal you may have. Interested in learning more about load optimization? Reach out to today to set up a consultation with one of our PTs!


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