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Athlete Wellness Monitoring for Optimal Performance

Athlete Wellness Monitoring

Athleticism has matured significantly in the centuries since the ancient Greeks started practicing sports professionally, and one crucial aspect that is more important than ever is monitoring athletes’ wellness levels. But what is athlete wellness monitoring, why is it important, and how can you do it effectively? Let’s find out.

Wellness monitoring allows coaches and athletes to detect and predict risks that could lead to injury. Examples include strain from excessive training load, competing while fatigued, and even external stressors. Getting automatic and manual feedback from the athlete will help avoid future problems.

Athlete wellness monitoring is still a developing science and could be better. According to Chris Wing, MSc, wellness monitoring data comes from five separate sources. Some of these are measured automatically when data is collected by wearable technology and devices, while others require manual information from the athlete or coach. Let’s look at these methods and how wellness monitoring technology helps experts understand them.

Why Is Wellness Monitoring Important For Athletes?

Health and wellness monitoring has become essential to millions of people’s lives. We all feel good when our phone tells us how many steps we’ve walked in a day, even if we’re not as health-conscious as we should be. 

Also, most people tend to pay attention when their body tries to tell them something is wrong. For example, when you have constant headaches, it might be time to have a medical professional check that out.

Wellness monitoring can help athletes and coaches to do two things: firstly, to avoid injury or harm to the athletes, and secondly, to determine if an athlete is ready to participate in a match or event. The systems help to determine these facts by identifying a few potential risk factors.

Strain From Excessive Exercise Or Training

A period of recovery must follow all forms of strenuous exercise. There are various ways to do this, like exercising different muscle groups on different days. As TechCrunch illustrates, overexerting yourself could lead to longer recovery times, injury, or other health issues. 

Running Exercise
Image Credit: Unsplash

Any physical exercise aims to achieve and maintain peak physical performance, a key component for athletes. But as is said about all good things, too much activity can be harmful.

Accurate wellness monitoring can help athletes and coaches to see if they are guilty of overexerting themselves and take the necessary steps to rectify the matter before it causes severe problems.

Competing In Events While Fatigued

Many things can cause fatigue, including sleep quality, stress, increased workload, and lousy eating or exercise habits. Regardless of the causes, fatigue can kill the dreams of athletes who want to perform at their peak. 

In a study found in the Journal of Physiology, J. Physiol states that fatigue can affect a person’s mental faculties, as well as their muscles and even bones. This fatigue can cause strain and stress in those affected areas.

Competing In Events While Fatigued
Image Credit: isagenixhealth

Combining this fatigue with the stresses and strains of preparing for and participating in a major sporting event is an accident waiting to happen. Injuries (often severe) can happen before you know it.

If handled correctly, wellness monitoring technologies can help protect an athlete’s health by detecting fatigue signs before injuring themselves.

Identifying External Stressors

No one can give their all in their chosen career if external stressors influence them negatively, and athletes are no exception.

The effects of stress on our lives are undeniable. Everyone develops coping mechanisms, for better or worse. Still, athletes cannot afford to fall for traditional coping mechanisms like smoking, drinking, or using drugs since their active lifestyle prohibits them. Consequently, the stress takes even more of a mental toll.

The stress will also affect their fatigue levels, which we’ve already mentioned. So, you should identify and deal with external stress as quickly and effectively as possible. Wellness monitoring systems will help to identify these stressors so that the athlete can take appropriate action before things go too far.

What It All Comes Down To

When correctly implemented, wellness monitoring tools and technologies should help athletes identify aspects of their lives that negatively impact their performance. The keywords are “correctly implemented.” A second factor is that the athletes (and their coaches) must be willing to take the necessary steps to handle it correctly.

Where Wellness Monitoring Data Comes From

Any information is only as valuable as the data it is based on; wellness monitoring data is no exception. It’s like the computer quote, “garbage in, garbage out.” Users or systems must feed raw performance data into a wellness monitoring system to calculate results. And if your data collection is correct, your results will be valuable. So, where do wellness monitoring systems get their data?

Wellness Monitoring Data
Image Credit: researchgate

The Athlete’s Personal Exertion Rating

A common practice is letting athletes rate their perceived exertion levels about thirty minutes after a training or exercise session. This is based on a scale from one to ten, where one means “no challenge at all” and ten means “I nearly died.”

The system, devised by Carl Foster, is powerful in its simplicity since the athlete only has to answer the question, “How was today’s session?” Of course, any exercise routine should be challenging before it is worth anything, but too many ratings that go too high may indicate a potential problem.

There are two problems with this system. Firstly, it does not account for all activity. For example, the athlete may follow a balanced gym session with an hour of chopping wood, the latter of which won’t be measured. Secondly, it’s all subjective. Some athletes may lie about their results, seeing it as a waste of time rather than a life-saving technology.

Recording Gym Exertion Levels

In a formal workout setting, like in a gym, exertion monitoring is easy. You can enter data like the number of repetitions and sets you completed for each exercise and the weight you used. The wellness monitoring software will determine your results and exertion levels from that data.

The problem is that this requires some baseline from which to start. For example, Danny DeVito will have a different exertion level from lifting 200 lbs of weight than Arnold Schwarzenegger. So, for this data to be accurate and valuable, the monitoring software will have to see historical information and build a performance baseline over time.

GPS Data

Many fitness tracking apps track your movement distance and speed during your workout. This data comes from GPS systems built into our smartphones and other devices. This data is also helpful since it shows fixed results in how far and fast you ran during your workout, which it can compare with your past performance to see if you’re improving or over-exerting.

fitness tracking apps
Image Credit: zapier

Some controversy surrounds the reliability of GPS data, though. Most people agree that the distances tend to be accurate enough, but the speeds aren’t always as valid, and the GPS cannot account for added exertion from running uphill, for example. However, it is good enough to be effective, especially if you combine it with data from other sources to confirm the statistics.

Heart Rate Monitoring

Heart rate monitors are valuable tools for filling in the blanks from other recording methods. For example, GPS data doesn’t make provision for running uphill and only records it as “moving slower.” Combining that part of the statistics with your accurately measured heart rate will prove that your body worked harder despite moving more slowly.

Heart Rate Monitoring
Image Credit: garmin

Heart rate statistics are hard to fake if you use a proper monitor. They can also give early indications of heart problems along with their fitness and performance statistics, making heart rate monitors essential wellness monitoring tools.

General Wellness Questionnaires

The data sources mentioned so far track everything training-related, but they don’t track external factors that also play a vital part in an athlete’s overall wellness. That’s where general wellness questionnaires come in.

They are often the most frustrating part of wellness monitoring since they take time to complete and ask uncomfortable questions, causing some athletes to lie or withhold information when completing it.

However, if athletes complete it regularly and truthfully, these questionnaires can complete the picture to give a broad perspective on an athlete’s overall wellness.

The questionnaire should cover every area of an athlete’s life, including finances, relationships, eating habits, and mental well-being. 

How Athlete Wellness Monitoring Data Is Processed

Data must be collected to monitor an athlete’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Once gathered, athletes and coaches must find a way to analyze this information to gain valuable insights. It is essential to store this data for future comparison to measure progress and identify potential threats to the athlete’s wellness.

Here are some ways in which the wellness data of athletes can be processed:

Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets are the simplest (but not the easiest) way to process wellness monitoring data. Athletes or coaches can create a spreadsheet in which they can manually input the required data, and the spreadsheet will automatically do calculations and output the results. 

It is cheap (essentially free), but it takes time to get the spreadsheet working as you want. You also need to manually capture the data, which makes it more of a chore. An excellent step-by-step guide developed by Excel expert Adam Sullivan will help you get your athlete wellness monitoring spreadsheet up and running in no time.

Athlete Wellness Monitoring Apps

Opening the app store on your smartphone and searching for “athlete wellness monitoring” or simply “athlete monitoring” will give you hundreds, if not thousands, of results.

You can easily find an app tailored to your sport or activity and designed to suit your current fitness level. Even the built-in health apps in modern iPhones and Android phones are already helpful, but you might require something more.

Finding the proper athlete monitoring app for you could be challenging, but you can always talk to someone who excels in your chosen sport to determine what they use to monitor their wellness.

A tremendous all-around athlete wellness monitoring app is Actimet. Athletes can use it independently, or coaches can use the platform to monitor all their athletes from one central location.

Web-Based Wellness Monitoring Platforms

Web-Based Wellness Monitoring Platforms
Image Credit: athletemonitoring

Many coaches may feel that pre-built apps must be more relaxed for their requirements, mainly because they must track several athletes simultaneously. Luckily there are more robust platforms available. A great example is AthleteMonitoring.com.

The video below explains the purpose of AthleteMonitoring.com, which is to provide coaches with reliable wellness monitoring tools to facilitate their work. The highly customizable platform enables coaches to tailor it to suit various sports and fitness levels.

Wellness data is captured automatically based on measurements and input from the athletes. The platform provides the coach (and athletes) with a summary of their performance, improvement, and potential problems they can easily avoid or handle.

Conditioning Research

Conditioning research includes studies on enhancing fitness, improving physical performance, and optimizing training methods. High-Intesity Interval Training (HIIT), Strength Training, Plyometric Training, Recovery, and Regeneration are critical areas in conditioning research.

Studying these research areas helps in understanding how to design effective conditioning programs for athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and people who want to enhance their physical performance and overall health.

Studying these research areas helps in understanding how to design effective conditioning programs for athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and people who want to enhance their physical performance and overall health.

The study of conditioning is a constantly evolving field investigating different aspects of athletic training and improving performance. A conditioning coach needs access to this research to work effectively.

A conditioning coach is a trained professional designing training programs and exercises to improve athletes’ physical performance. They enhance strength, speed, agility, endurance, and flexibility. Studying conditioning research enables a conditional coach to comprehend the physiological and biomechanical principles that affect an athlete’s performance.

The Recovery Process in Athlete Wellness Monitoring

Comprehensive and systematic strategies to support athletes during the recuperation phase of the physical and mental demands of training and completion are part of the recovery process of athlete wellness monitoring. By closely monitoring aspects of an athlete’s well-being, scientists, coaches, and healthcare professionals can customize recovery interventions to reduce the risk of injury and optimize performance.

Here are some vital components of the recovery process in athlete monitoring.

Sleep Quality Monitoring

Athletes can monitor their sleep quality, disturbances, and duration using tracking devices or self-reporting tools. This can help identify areas for improvement and ensure adequate recovery and rest. Sleep patterns can also be analyzed to enhance sleep quality monitoring.

Ultimately monitoring the sleep quality of an athlete improves sleep hygiene, optimizes recovery strategies, and enhances athletic performance.

Training Load Management

Training load data is used to optimize training programs and periodize workouts for adequate recovery. This is where an athlete’s training intensity, frequency, and volume are monitored closely to avoid burnout and prevent overtraining. Below is an overview of training load monitoring in athletic wellness:

Training load components can be measured in different ways:

  • Training Intensity
  • Training Volume
  • Training Frequency

Training load data can be collected through numerous means, such as:

Feedback and analysis:

Regular analysis of training load data allows sports scientists and coaches to assess an athlete’s response to training, identifying signs of fatigue, overtraining, and undertraining.

Load management:

Optimal training load management involves finding the correct balance between training stress and recovery.

Individualization:

When individualized to an athlete’s unique characteristics, training load data is most effective. Customized approaches maximize training effectiveness, minimizing the risk of injury.

By integrating training load monitoring into athlete wellness programs, teams and individual athletes can make informed decisions to optimize training, thus improving performance and supporting overall health and well-being.

Sports Fatigue Monitoring

Subjective fatigue assessments, such as visual analog scales or questionnaires, gauge an athlete’s perceived fatigue. Training and recovery protocols based on fatigue levels are also adjusted to prevent performance decrements.

Muscle Soreness Assessment

Regularly assessing an athlete’s muscle soreness levels using subjective rating scales or objective measuring tools allows recovery strategies to be tailored based on the location and severity of muscle soreness.

Recovery Stress Questionnaire

The Recovery Stress Questionnaire (RESTQ) is a validated self-report tool used to assess an athlete’s stress and recovery level. This questionnaire provides valuable insights into an individual’s well-being, helping sports scientists, coaches, and healthcare professionals understand the athlete recovery process and identify areas that may need attention.

How Effective Is Athlete Monitoring?

The technology behind athlete wellness monitoring is maturing rapidly, but one potential flaw is human nature. 

The athlete monitoring app’s automatically generated statistics and data are highly dependable. Still, anything that the athletes themselves must enter leaves room for error or even blatant deception.

An athlete who desperately wants to participate despite their wellness not being ideal could find a way to “fix” the data to skew the results in their favor.

Wellness monitoring apps benefit from the rapid improvement of AI and algorithms, allowing for quick identification and correction of mistakes before damage occurs.

Conclusion

Athlete wellness monitoring is a science that’s been proven again and again over centuries. Modern tools incorporate these scientific discoveries to give reliable results for athletes and coaches to avoid potential injuries and health problems.

Though it’s not always perfect, athletes should use any wellness monitoring app rather than none as a way of monitoring fitness.

Suppose you are interested in previous research on athlete wellness monitoring. In that case, we recommend undergoing a literature search using academic databases such as Google Scholar, PubMed, Journal of Sports, or research journals specific to sports science and medicine.

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