July 2017| 43 There are a number of activation exercises you can do before training or a race situation to reduce the risk of in ury and increase performance. These will produce increased blood ow and exibility leading to more efficient muscle activity. Gluteals: Kneeling on all fours, push heel up towards the ceiling, keeping your hips square and your back flat, pausing for three seconds at the top of the movement. Slowly lower your knee back to the ground and repeat the movement. Perform this 10 times on each leg. Hamstrings: Laying with your back flat on the floor, keep one leg straight, and have a partner hold the other at 45 degrees. Gently push your heel into your partner’s hands with ten percent of your strength, while your partner pushes it away from them, back towards your head. Once your leg has been pushed away, use your hamstrings and glutes to ‘throw’ it back into your partner’s hands. Repeat 10 times on each leg. Laying on your front, dynam- ically flick your leg from one side over the other, lifting your foot towards the opposite shoulder. Return your leg to the starting position and repeat the movement with the other leg. Complete 10 repetitions on each leg. Quads: Squat: with your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly turned out, sit your hips back as if you are sitting back onto a bench, gliding your knees over your toes. Aim to bear weight through your heels, helping to activate your gluteals, ready to fire your quads in order to return you to a standing position. Slowly lower yourself again and repeat 10 times. Scapula: Sit into a half squat position with your elbows in line with your ribs. Keeping your elbows still, pull your shoulder blades back and together. Hold for five seconds and repeat 10 times. n order to avoid in ury, every effort should be made to ensure that you do not over-train. There is a fine balance between training to elicit a physiological response, and overstressing metabolic and skeletal systems. Overtraining is not confined to physiological responses it is also an emotional and behavioural condition that occurs when the volume of exercise an athlete undertakes exceeds their capacity to recover. Overtraining is the umbrella term used to describe negative responses within the body leading to a plateau or decrease in performance, that often results in some physiological manifestation. From a soft tissue viewpoint, repetitive micro trauma within a musculo-tendinous unit without appropriate rest can lead to more pronounced muscle trauma and damage. At a cellular level, prolonged maladaptive exercise can lead to raised cortisol levels which have been shown to decrease wound healing and immune responses. Amino acid building blocks of protein uptake can also be affected, with both protein synthesis and energy production decreased. sychological effects of overtraining can include decreased sleep, depression, low mood and loss of appetite. To avoid overtraining you need to ensure you incorporate regular rest days and recovery weeks into your schedule, and keep a close eye on diet – with your calorie intake matching or exceeding your daily energy usage [including resting metabolic rate, training and daily activities] depending on your training goals. For further advice and information join as a member of BackCare: www.backcare.org.uk , email@example.com or telephone: 020 8977 5474.