Dan Garner breaks down the regression timeline of fatigue that leads to injury and the first stage of recovery

Dan Garner is passionate about recovery and the Under The Bar Podcast has had a huge positive response to his segments. In the final episode in his Recovery series Dan explores “Recovery From Injury”. Dan’s been using these strategies on his athletes and doctors have been amazed at how quick these guys are recovering. This is Part 1 of the recap of Dan’s interview where he talks about the regression timeline of fatigue and the first stage of recovery from injury. If you want to read Part 2 of the recap, where Dan goes through stages 2  and 3 – proliferation and remodelling, and gives his advice on supplementation, you can read it here. Want more Coach Garner?? Check him out online: www.hockeytraining.com www.createfreedom.com www.coachgarner.com
Also in this episode:
  • Rawdon and Tom do their best not to answer a listener’s question about periodisation as a training system.
  • They do end up talking about the difference between programming for a strength or performance goal versus a body composition goal, and what their current approaches are.
  • Rawdon reveals that he likes to “…reach into the wizard sleeve and pull out the magic.”
So, white lab coats on, bunsen burners lit, balls deep, Dan is about to take us through what we can do acutely and what we can do longer-term.

Recovery from injury is different than recovery from exercise

Dan says it’s important to realise that everybody just lumps recovery into one category, but there are so many different sources of fatigue that require different strategies. There’s a big difference between short-term recovery and long-term recovery.

Injury is the last stop on the timeline of fatigue

There’s a certain progression of bad things that happen the more fatigue you accumulate in the body – and it happens on a regression timeline.

1. Breakdown in your technique.

Lifting weights is extremely technical, and this becomes even more so when you’re lifting heavy loads. You are thinking about all your body parts, the distribution of weight, driving through the heels, bracing, breathing right – technique is hard and when you’re fatigued, technique will break down and you’ll start getting sloppy.

2. Lack of progress.

Here you may be able to maintain your current strength and physique for some time, but the actual progression begins to slow, or it comes to a halt. This is because accumulation of fatigue decreases overall anabolic concentrations of hormones in the body. It increases concentrations of catabolic hormones; it decreases your technical skill and it decreases your mental capacity for hard training.

3. Decrease in performance.

So before, there was a lack of progress, but you were able to maintain. The next thing that happens is a decrease. So you actually start getting weaker and you start performing worse at your sport or performing worse in the gym. Weights that felt easy before are starting to feel like crap now, or what you were doing out in the field with your speed, with the ball — any sport you play — has become impaired – you’re missing more shots in basketball.

4. Injury

Injury is the last thing on Dan’s regression timeline, and fatigue will actually cause this. Dan says the combination of one, two and three is a recipe for disaster – it’s only a matter of time before an overworked, technically-impaired and under-recovered individual is going to get hurt.
It’s only a matter of time before an overworked, technically-impaired and under-recovered individual is going to get hurt. – Dan Garner

The body has a very consistent pattern of repair

Dan acknowledges that it’s easy to perceive injury as chaotic with the pain, the swelling, the dysfunction. There’s a lot of physical and mental problems that can seem chaotic when you get injured. But looking at it biologically, the body is organised in very consistent pattern of repair, and it comes in three phases:
  1. Inflammation – the stimulus for the body to release things that signal the immune system that say, “Holy Crap, we’ve been damaged; tissue is being destroyed here; cells are dead; we need the immune system to come clean this up and rebuild it.”
  2. Proliferation – the immune system going in and cleaning things up, decreasing the inflammation, getting it ready for healing.
  3. Remodelling – the actual remodelling of tissue.
And within these three steps, there are things that we can do nutritionally to optimise the three steps, so our recovery from injury is not only quicker, but it’s also of a more greater quality recovery than it otherwise would have been.

So what’s the first port of call?

1. Inflammation

Step one in the body’s pattern of repair is inflammation. During this phase, Dan says that we want to utilise nutritional strategies that support and manage inflammation and not blunt it. Inflammation is signalling the immune system to actually come and repair it. So using anti-inflammation medication can actually prolong the rate at which we recover from this injury, even if pain has decreased. Dan adds that this is important to note that this is relevant for training, too. If you’re artificially decreasing inflammation after a resistance training session, you’re also going to decrease the adaptations you gain from exercise. It works the same with injury.
Inflammation is signalling the immune system to actually come and repair it.  So using anti-inflammation medication can actually prolong the rate at which we recover from this injury, even if pain has decreased. – Dan Garner

Fatty acid balance

Fatty acid balance is really important, Dan says. A diet high in trans-fats, omega-6, rich vegetable oils and saturated fats will be pro-inflammatory. On the other hand, a diet high in monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fats, will be more anti-inflammatory.  Studies have shown that high omega-6 to omega-3 ratios actually reduce collagen production, while low 3:6 is supportive of healing. Dan ran through the monounsaturated fats that should be in the diet all the time — things like:
  • olive oil
  • avocado oil
  • nuts
  • nut-butter
But he says there can be a greater emphasis on these foods when you’re injured, or if they’re not in your diet all the time, then definitely switch it over, if you’re injured.

Keep your fish oil consumption in check

Dan tells us not to sabotage our recovery with too much fish oil. He says studies show that high dose fish oil — just 12-15 grams per day —reduces immune function. If we’re taking too much fish oil per day, we’re affecting phase two of injury recovery, healing and repair, Dan notes fish oil is important for phase one inflammation management, but recommends to stay in the 3-6 gram per day range. Read more about the final two stages of recovery from injury, and Dan’s recommendations for supplementation here in Recovery from Injury Part 2.