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Traditional calculations of the acute:chronic workload ratio (ACWR) are ‘mathematically coupled’, as the most recent week is included in estimates of both the acute and chronic workloads. As Lolli and colleagues rightly point out, this induces a spurious correlation between the acute and chronic loads of ~0.50 (r=0.52 in their simulated data of 1000 athletes).1 They suggest that the simplest solution is to use uncoupled ACWRs (where the acute load is not part of the chronic load) instead (figure 1).
Notably, at least two studies have already used uncoupled ACWR calculations, both demonstrating that rapid workload increases are associated with higher injury risks.2 3 To this end, Lolli and colleagues’ suggestion warrants consideration—should we use ‘uncoupled’ ACWRs instead of ‘coupled’? We have two aims in this editorial: (1) to further comment on how mathematical coupling affects ACWR estimates and (2) to encourage researchers and practitioners to use a critical approach to load management, wherein ACWRs may play a part.
Comments on mathematical coupling and ACWRs
Defining coupled and uncoupled ACWRs
We define mathematical coupling in the same manner as Lolli et al, where a number is represented in both the numerator and denominator of a ratio, contributing to a spurious correlation. In the case of the ACWR, both …
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