Rising Importance of Assessing Daily Readiness
Most Strength Coaches will use the word ‘recovery’ once every 30-seconds, however we must all understand ‘stress’ before we can pretend to understand periodization, progressive overload, or recovery. Stress has to be introduced to the body to initiate an adaptive response. Although, the problem nowadays is that stress is coming at athletes at a rate and volume never experienced before. Therefore, we must adjust our view on programming and periodization. This is why, today we will focus on key factors that contribute to the rising importance of assessing daily readiness. Watch the video presentation here.
Coaches program a certain amount of volume and intensity for their athletes in hopes of stimulating a calculated response. When Bompa, Verkhoshansky, and Prilepin were writing all the literature regarding proper loading schemes, they were working with athletes in state sponsored programs. During this time, Prilepin was performing research in a type of athlete utopia when he developed the volume bible known as Prilepin’s Chart.
Most of us work with athletes that are consumed by their smartphones, social media, laptops, wearables, and the list goes on and on. In addition, information is accessible 24/7 causing overload. Due to the rampant increase in these factors, It is now common knowledge that social media alone has created all new issues for young athletes in the forms of fear of missing out (FoMo), bullying, fatigue, stalking, and online social comparison. We also know that chronic exposure to low-intensity blue light before bedtime may have serious implications on sleep quality, circadian phase and specific sleep cycle durations. When you add in the stress of everyday life that athletes have been experiencing for decades in the forms of school, testing, wavering relationships, and possible jobs…you have a recipe for stressed out and fatigued young athletes. Let’s take a closer look!
Social Media Effects on Fatigue:
Stress is coming at athletes in ways unlike any other time in history. Tandon, Dhir, Talwar, Kaur, Mäntymäki (2021) took a close look at fear of missing out , social media stalking, online social comparison, social media fatigue, social media envy, and frequency of posting updates. FoMo is the apprehension and concern felt by some social media users that they might be missing some important bit of news or happening in the world that is being experienced by a family member, friend, or peer. Twitter and Facebook have taken over the evening news as the source for current events except the consumer doesn’t have to wait until 5pm.
Social media stalking is the voyeuristic tendency of users to engage in persistent monitoring of social channels to gather information without an intent to do harm. Social media envy can be a bit more malicious if the user has a tendency to lean towards negative gossip that might damage the person or place of business. However, social media envy most often turns into unpleasant feelings of envy due to pain, resentment, and feelings of inferiority. This is because of messaging suggesting different groups or people possess something that the viewer lacks and longs for such as money, fame, good looks or talent.
Frequency of posting social media status updates is something (Tandon, et al. 2021) looked at in determining the cause of social media fatigue. Frequency of posting refers to the number of times a user creates an update of his or her home page or timeline on Facebook or Twitter. In this context, fatigue is defined as the unpleasant feelings or mental exhaustion of users to technology, communication, and information overload due to time spent on social media channels.
However, FoMo had a significant association with fatigue, social comparison, and stalking. Tandon, et al.(2021) findings imply that social media users who fear that their friends and acquaintances have more rewarding experiences on social media suffer from a constant degree of anxiety if they are unaware of what their friends are up to on social media at all times. Once again showing that student athletes are experiencing fatigue and anxiety at all new levels.
Effects of Blue Light on Sleep and Recovery:
Problematic cell phone use is evident from the research performed by Tugtekin, U., Barut Tugtekin, E., Kurt, A. A., & Demir, K. (2020). The amount of time spent on a cell phone is directly correlated to social media fatigue, problematic cell phone use, and depression. There’s something else that is worrisome about increased cell phone use that is even more related to athletic performance, and that is blue light waves at night.
Gradisar, Wolfson, Harvey, Hale, Rosenberg, & Czeisler (2013) found that nine out of ten Americans reported the use of technology within an hour before bed with television being the most popular. As you will see, any light can cause disturbances, but blue light waves as from a cell phone are dramatically worse. Interactive blue light devices like laptops, cell phones, and video games used in the hour before bed caused more difficulty to fall asleep and led to more un-refreshing sleep. All of these can be linked to fatigue, depression, and even the performance of athletic movements. (Gradisar, et al. 2013).
What is Fatigue?
Taylor, J. L., Amann, M., Duchateau, J., Meeusen, R., & Rice, C. L. (2016) give a measurable definition to fatigue as a reduction in one’s ability to produce force. Fatigue is also associated with changes in the neuromuscular pathway in regards to motor unit firing, motor neuron excitability, and motor cortical excitability. This paper showed that changes all throughout the nervous system are present with fatigue including the brain, spinal cord, sensory input, muscular output, and even autonomic function.
Clearly fatigue is important to monitor in regards to performance especially for athletic endeavors requiring higher velocity in movements, but there is something more important than velocity and athletic performance. Stress and fatigue are clearly linked to injury for athletes (Lavallée, L., & Flint, F. 1996). They found that competitive anxiety and tension were related to a higher frequency of injury. However, anxiety, tension, anger, hostility, and overall bad moods were related to the severity of injuries. All of this confirms the use of a quantifiable measure like velocity along with subjective measures like a questionnaire to allow Coaches and athletic trainers to take a deeper look into the lives of athletes.
Chu B, Marwaha K, Sanvictores T, et al (2021) explain the physiological responses to stress. To summarize, the stress response is a good thing when used for its intended purpose. The stress response is designed to give humans the ability to survive critical moments such as car wrecks, excessive bleeding, or during physical attacks. Acute influxes of cortisol provide the human body with increased strength and energy reserves to overcome intense moments. However, there are negative physiological responses as well. When the brain perceives something as dangerous or stressful, it triggers a cascade of events by activating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA is the primary driver of the stress response. This triggers a release of steroid hormones called glucocorticoids, which include cortisol.
It functions to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis, to suppress the immune system, and to aid in the metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrates for added energy during a crisis. It also decreases bone formation, and inhibits collagen production. Cortisol is designed for acute once in a while occurrence and can evolve into something traumatic if chronic. However, in today’s world of social media bullying, stress can be an all day and all-night occurrence. If an athlete carries chronic stress into training at a frequent rate, then injury and sickness are sure to follow.
Chronic stress left unchecked can lead to hypertension, heart disease, or stroke. Chronic stress can also result in impaired communication between the immune system and the HPA axis like described earlier. This impaired communication has been linked to several physical and mental health issues such as obesity, chronic fatigue, diabetes, and several mental disorders. Assessing daily fatigue to monitor outside stressors is a great way to lead athletes to teachable moments that might improve their lives for years to come. Check out our previous blog post that highlights how Strength Coaches can use VBT to monitor progress.
Being a World Champion in powerlifting, Travis competed at a world-class level in Olympic weightlifting and has coached professional Olympic weightlifters alongside Don McCauley and Glenn Pendlay at Team MDUSA. Now Travis coaches the most successful weightlifting team in the USA.
Watch the video below:
- Taylor, J. L., Amann, M., Duchateau, J., Meeusen, R., & Rice, C. L. (2016). Neural Contributions to Muscle Fatigue: From the Brain to the Muscle and Back Again. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 48(11), 2294–2306. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000000923
- Lavallée, L., & Flint, F. (1996). The relationship of stress, competitive anxiety, mood state, and social support to athletic injury. Journal of athletic training, 31(4), 296–299.
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- Anushree Tandon, Amandeep Dhir, Shalini Talwar, Puneet Kaur, Matti Mäntymäki, Dark consequences of social media-induced fear of missing out (FoMO): Social media stalking, comparisons, and fatigue. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Volume 171, 2021,120931, ISSN 0040-1625, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2021.120931.
- Tugtekin, U., Barut Tugtekin, E., Kurt, A. A., & Demir, K. (2020). Associations Between Fear of Missing Out, Problematic Smartphone Use, and Social Networking Services Fatigue Among Young Adults. Social Media + Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305120963760
- Michael Gradisar, Ph.D., F.A.A.S.M.1 ; Amy R. Wolfson, Ph.D.2 ; Allison G. Harvey, Ph.D.3 ; Lauren Hale, Ph.D.4 , Russell Rosenberg, Ph.D., F.A.A.S.M.5,6; Charles A. Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D.7 (2013). The Sleep and Technology Use of Americans Findings from the National Sleep Foundation’s 2011 Sleep in American Poll. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, Volume 09, Issue 12. Published Online:December 15, 2013 https://doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.3272
- Chu B, Marwaha K, Sanvictores T, et al. Physiology, Stress Reaction. [Updated 2021 Sep 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541120/
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- Lavallée L, Flint F. The relationship of stress, competitive anxiety, mood state, and social support to athletic injury. J Athl Train. 1996;31(4):296-299.
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