Managing internal load with infrared thermography
Monitoring the athlete’s internal load is a fundamental mechanism to prevent the injury risk, especially after a quarantine period (Halson, 2014).
Thermography helps us to detect changes in skin temperature that are related to inner tissue physiological modifications. Bad load assimilation may create thermal asymmetries that can be easily detected, quantified and tracked over the time using thermography (Fernández Cuevas et al., 2017).
Infrared thermography is a technology that measures the temperature of the skin and stands out because it is fast, non-invasive and offers objective data. Both thermal asymmetry between contralateral regions and a significant decrease or increase over a period may indicate an increased risk of injury, as described by Tumilty et al in a study on Achilles tendon with thermography (2019).
The key is that the temperature provides us with objective and quantifiable information on the physiological state of the tissues. Its variation is closely related to the individual and localized assimilation of the load. That is why it becomes a key tool for injury prevention, as well as for monitoring injuries and return to play decisions (Hildebrandt et al., 2012).
- Halson, S. L. (2014). Monitoring Training Load to Understand Fatigue in Athletes. Sports Medicine, 44(2), 139-147. doi: 10.1007/s40279-014-0253-z
- Fernández-Cuevas, I., Arnáiz Lastras, J., Escamilla Galindo, V., & Gómez Carmona, P. (2017). Infrared Thermography for the Detection of Injury in Sports Medicine. In J. I. Priego Quesada (Ed.), Application of Infrared Thermography in Sports Science (pp. 81-109). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.
- Tumilty, S., Adhia, D. B., Smoliga, J. M., & Gisselman, A. S. (2019). Thermal profiles over the Achilles tendon in a cohort of non-injured collegiate athletes over the course of a cross country season. Physical Therapy in Sport, 36, 110-115.
- Hildebrandt, C., Zeilberger, K., Ring, E. F. J., & Raschner, C. (2012). The application of medical Infrared Thermography in sports medicine. In K. R. Zaslav (Ed.), An International Perspective on Topics in Sports Medicine and Sports Injury (pp. 257-274): InTech