How the acute:chronic workload ratio can help you monitor injury risk

How the acute:chronic workload ratio can help you monitor injury risk

Advancements in tracking technology have made it much easier to monitor athletes’ training loads. But it can still be a challenge to turn that data into the practical insight you need to determine the right workload balance for your athletes.

Your experience and intuition likely guide many of those decisions. But if you’re interested in taking a more systematic approach, we’d like to tell you how a new feature in the Kinduct platform makes it easier to calculate the acute:chronic workload ratio. This metric is attracting a lot of attention and sport performance specialists in a variety of sports are using it to plan how often and how intensely their athletes should practice.

So what is it, exactly? The acute:chronic workload ratio is a calculation that compares short-term and long-term workloads. A research paper by several sports science experts defines it this way:

“The acute:chronic workload ratio (ACWR) is a model that provides an index of athlete preparedness. It takes into account the current workload (i.e., acute; rolling 7-day workload) and the workload that an athlete has been prepared for (i.e., chronic, rolling 28-day workload).”

To calculate the ratio, you divide the acute workload by the chronic workload:

acute/chronic = ratio

Determining athletes’ readiness to perform

In recent years, the acute:chronic workload ratio has been the focus of numerous studies by experts like Dr. Tim Gabbett and his colleagues. Gabbett is a coaching and sports science consultant from Australia who sees the ratio as a valuable tool for monitoring injury risk and preparing athletes for performance.

The training—injury prevention paradox: should athletes be training smarter and harder?, is one of several research papers Gabbett has written on the topic. In it, he describes acute:chronic workload ratio as “a best practice predictor of training-related injuries.” He says the ratio gives coaches a solid foundation for interventions to “reduce players risk, and thus, time-loss injuries.”

Based on his studies of athletes in a variety of pro-sports leagues, Gabbett has some interesting insights into how acute:chronic workload ratio can be used as a reliable “index of athlete preparedness.” His research suggests that an athlete is well prepared if his acute load is low, meaning he’s experiencing minimal fatigue and his chronic training load is high, which indicates he’s achieved a high level of fitness. The athlete is less likely to be prepared if the opposite is true. If the acute load is high and the chronic load is low, this shows that the athlete’s fitness level hasn’t adequately prepared him for the current training load.

Obviously, the ultimate goal is finding that sweet spot between training workloads that are high enough to improve fitness but not so high that they increase the risk of injury. So what’s the ideal value to strive for? Here’s what Gabbett suggests: “In terms of injury risk, acute:chronic workload ratios within the range of 0.8–1.3 could be considered the training sweet spot, while acute:chronic workload ratios ≥1.5 represent the danger zone.”

 

Bringing it all together in one platform

Enabling you to calculate metrics like acute:chronic workload ratios inside the Kinduct platform helps you get more value from your data and makes it easier to plan a well-balanced athlete monitoring program using the best and latest techniques.

The new Calculation Builder feature can save you time and effort by allowing you to make calculations inside the system, so there’s no need for exporting data and maintaining spreadsheets. And once the acute:chronic workload ratio is set, everything gets updated automatically. You can create reports based on the ratio and even set alerts to notify you when a player is in or near the danger zone so you can plan an effective intervention.

Now you have easy access to even more tools to plan better strategies for monitoring your athletes’ risk of injury.

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