Back and ready to compete | Rio 2016 Blog for AOC

Hi Everyone,

If you have been following me on my ‘Road to Rio’ you would know that earlier this year I suffered from a lower back injury. This injury meant I missed out on the back end of the Aussie domestic season and it lead to a change in my training. Over the past few months, while my body has been healing, my training was modified to suit what I was able to do at the time. In this blog I want to share with you what some of my modified training has been, as well as how, with the help of my coach and the experts at the AIS, I have been able to progress back to full training.

In order to plan phase one of my modified training we had to assess which movements to avoid. For me, this meant no rotation, extension or vertical loading, and that meant no throwing, running or heavy lifting (e.g. squats, cleans etc). Taking these aspects out meant removing majority of my normal training elements. So, it was time to get creative in the programming, as well as shift the focus or priority of my training to something that I could do. My coach Mike and Strength coach Ross put together a great plan. I couldn’t throw weighted balls and/or javelins, so instead, my coach and I kitted ourselves out with baseball mitts and a ball and played ‘catch’. It meant I could keep my arm rolling over and it kept an element of throwing in my program. It’s great fun and it’s keeping my hand-eye co-ordination in tune!

One of the priorities in my training became strengthening my core. In the early stages most of this was done through movement education, in a Pilates session. My instructor, Ari, took me back to the basics of learning to control my core. As my back healed I was able to add more movement to my core exercises and it progressed from very stationary frontal plane, and bracing with short leavers, to controlled small range rotation, and bracing with longer leaves. The final addition was full range rotation and side crunch. Ari is an amazing teacher and he has helped me build a very strong and functional core for throwing.

When it came to the gym, the focus was turned to building strength in my upper body and then finding ways of maintaining strength in my lower body. Because I wasn’t throwing we were able to introduce elements I hadn’t been able to work on in recent times including weighted shoulder circuits and overhead exercises. Lower body was a little more tricky. The main exercise we used to keep heavy load in my legs was with backward sled drag. Most of the other exercises were supplementary and kept the lower body ticking over. The lower body exercises have progressed over the months and I am now back on the platform with hang cleans and back squats. With all the work I have done, within the parameters I was given, I feel as though I have maintained and even improved lots of areas of my strength.

All my running, skipping, plyometrics progressed from deep water running, to running, jumping, skipping on the pool floor, to an easy and slow introduction to jogging. Once I was jogging again we were able to re-introduce basic change of direction movement and runway drills. Simple plyometrics and speed work were the final addition in getting back to full training.

I also mentioned in my previous blog the work I do with healing imagery. I have found this to be as important as all my other training in the past few months. In combination with the physical work I have done it has given me the confidence and trust in my body to build back into my full training.

I am now back throwing from a full approach and ready to compete. My progress has been due to the great work of my coach, Mike Barber and the team at the AIS – Ross Smith, Ben Raysmith, Vince Cosentini, Ari Takkinen, Greg Lovell and Renee Appaneal. Together they have helped heal me, made me stronger and helped best prepare me for Rio, and I am so thankful to each of them.

There are exciting times ahead as I travel to Europe on Thursday for a few competitions before heading to the Athletics Australia team camp in Florida at the start of July. I will be sure to keep you all posted on my adventures and upcoming competitions.


Kelsey-Lee Barber