University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

From Injury to Record Breaking Performance: A Case Study on Interdisciplinary Sports Science Support to an Elite Ultra Distance Runner.

Wright, M., Cooper, Darren ORCID:, Harrison, C., Cooley, D. and Fleming, L. (2009) From Injury to Record Breaking Performance: A Case Study on Interdisciplinary Sports Science Support to an Elite Ultra Distance Runner. In: First International Sports Science and Sports Medicine Conference, 20th – 22nd August 2009, Newcastle upon Tyne.

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The Libyan Challenge is a 190 km desert run and is one of the most extreme ultra distance races in the world. Athletes must be self sufficient, carrying food and nutrients in a backpack. In preparation for the event an interdisciplinary sports science team provided support to a 41-year-old elite athlete to assist in her goal of winning
the race. During consultation, the athlete expressed concerns about the effect of the environment and backpack on performance. The athlete had also suffered an acute achilles tendinopathy 15 weeks before the race, preventing her from running and affecting confidence.
The support team included a sports therapist, sports psychologist, physiologist, nutritionist, and strength and conditioning coach. Initial support focused on rehabilitation, consisting of a progressive eccentric
plantar flexion strength programme and previous success of an eccentric programme (3610 repetitions) in the contralateral limb. Return to running was assessed via isokinetic evaluation at speeds determined by prior biomechanical analyses. Simultaneously, a crosstraining
intervention maintaining aerobic conditioning was prescribed
with a progressive strength programme to increase leg
strength and neuromuscular stability. After successful rehabilitation, running was gradually introduced (11 weeks before race) until the athlete had returned to normal training (7 weeks before race). Appropriate nutrition that was non-perishable, easily ingested, energy dense and portable was identified and examined for feasibility in an
environmental chamber (38uC, 25% humidity) during maximal
running performance. Gradually specific backpack and sand running were introduced at 5 weeks and combined at 4 weeks. Two weeks prior to the event the athlete underwent a taper period and acclimatisation sessions (36 per week, 38uC). The athlete finished as the first female and broke the course record, with no reoccurrence of injury. This case study supports an interdisciplinary approach to
applied sports science as a model of good practice.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: sports science, elite athletes, distance runners, rehabilitation, injury
Subjects: Q Science > QP Physiology
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > School of Sport and Exercise Science
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Depositing User: Darren Cooper
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2014 09:27
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:04

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