Guest Post By Paul Montgomery
Methods for monitoring using Kinetic-Athlete
In 2008 , Kinetic Pty Ltd developed the Kinetic-Athlete program on the back of their well-developed GymAware platform. I have been using the system since its inception; on broader terms the system is comprehensive enough to store injury data and associated reports and scans, but I will only focus on the experiences I have had in the day to day use for monitoring. I have found some key aspects that create a seamless use of the data.
Daily monitoring of key muscle groups greatly enhances our understanding of the state of the athlete. Note the increased soreness reported after games(green bands)
To ensure a comprehensive profile can be established for the individual and/or team, it is best to obtain data on a daily basis. This is critical for understanding responses at the micro- and meso-cycle levels; you need to be aware of the acute responses to daily and weekly training loads, but also a degree of longitudinal perspective of the chronic responses to training and cumulated competition, so post game data on the next day is critical to give resolution to a range of loads, from easy sessions through to competition. KA has a useful trend function that can be applied to any time period, and this allows you and the athlete to visualize these chronic responses.
Building this comprehensive database will also help with statistical inferences at the individual and group levels. The ability to monitor daily is very simple for players who you may not see every day, or when you’re team or athletes are traveling as the KA app allows questions to be completed and uploaded to the server from any location. Once it’s on the server you can do your own post processing by exporting the data.
Target key muscle groups for feedback
This may be very specific for each sport, but the critical component in running based team sports is minimizing soft tissue injury risk. Obviously the main locomotor muscle groups would be highlighted, but also including a question for shins may pick early stress response signs before they evolve into a stress fracture.
Ask wellness and lifestyle questions
Drilling down to those areas impacting on stress and wellbeing is a critical element in the monitoring process. Understanding these areas allows the practitioner to intervene with the appropriate action. It’s too simplistic to say “Jimmy is stressed today..” but much more useful to know:
- How long has he been stressed?
- Has the magnitude of the stress changed?
- How is the stress correlating with other indices such as sleep?
These are questions that can be answered from an appropriate monitoring platform, and then the intervention can be developed over and above a response that may be “get him to the sport psych..” That is an important component, but feedback to the coach may recommend that Jimmy be given a week away from the club environment, or sent interstate for a night or two to see family and friends. This psychological rejuvenation is critically underestimated in many organizations, and can be highlighted by answering questions related to stress, sleep, motivation, coping and general fatigue.
Educate athletes on the benefits of concise reporting
Players will often see the monitoring as a waste of their time, having little consequence to their daily routines or performance, this could not be further from the truth. The approach I have taken is to educate the players about how small changes and their responses can provide critical information to medical staff. Once they understand that it’s better to indicate a small change in soreness, rather than try to tough it out, may cost them one training session, but that’s better than missing 4-6 weeks and losing your spot on the team over a soft tissue injury that could have been managed early.
The KA program has the flexibility to structure question answers in several formats. The numerical format which appears as a drop down list on the forms is the most effective when classifying muscle soreness. Individual preferences will dictate the use of a 5, 10 or 20 point scale, while in some other software systems there is only a yes/no check box of soreness. This makes it simple, but I would question the utility of such a process when you are looking for acute changes. A 5 point scale appears easy to administer with fewer anchors (response statement or descriptor) for each number; the 10 point scale similar to the Borg CR-10 is my preference as I think it provides more resolution to the linear increases in soreness. Not all numbers need an anchor, which enhances the resolution as a player can select a value between responses. Recently, Laurent et al. proposed a Perceived Recovery Status scale similar to the Borg CR-10 to subjectively assess an individual’s level of recovery (i.e. poorly recovered to very recovered) in relation to exercise performance; this aspect also allows direct correlations to training when a similar scale is used to determine training intensity.
Applying statistical analysis to interpret changes
Thorough practitioners will apply a reliability test to their monitoring to check the accuracy of responses between similar sessions. Progressive sports statistics now use magnitudes and smallest worthwhile change to determine significant variation; complete explanations, examples and templates can be found at http://sportsci.org/resource/stats/index.html. Once these parameters have been developed, then the data can be manipulated and assessed to determine if acute changes between days or after training sessions are above the typical response for an individual, above that expected for the group, or greater than the previous day. The data now becomes very powerful in determining the next course of action for individuals – train on, train less or don’t train, and the medical team can treat accordingly.
In the next post we will explore way in which all data from GymAware or training loads can be correlated with the monitoring data to provide a complete assessment of training readiness due to physical and physiological fatigue.
Laurent CM GJ, Bishop PA, Sjökvist J, Schumacker RE, Richardson MT, Curtner-Smith M. A practical approach to monitoring recovery: development of a perceived recovery status scale. J Strength Cond Res. 2011. 25(3): p. 620-8
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