The season has begun! Whether you’re a rep soccer or rugby player, or a desk worker who dabbles in the weekly game of Oztag, it’s great to be back on the field and playing your favourite sports after a long offseason.
Unfortunately, this is also the time of year where the most sports injuries tend to occur.
This can mainly be attributed to a sharp increase in training and playing, without a sufficient amount of work done in the offseason to prevent these injuries from occurring.
Here are a few things you can do over the rest of the season to increase your chance of staying fit and healthy.
1. Incorporate resistance training into your week
A weights, bodyweight, or banded resistance session will go a long way in reducing your injury risk.
In fact, a study in 2014 showed that regular strength training decreased your overall injury risk by approximately 70%. Great bodyweight exercises you can do at home include squats, lunges, calf raises, and push-ups.
If you’re unsure about where to start, we offer exercise classes for both adults (CET classes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday) and kids (Youth Strengthening classes Monday & Thursday).
2. Warm up before you play
Nothing is a greater shock to the system than going from sitting for 8 hours at work, to sitting for 30 minutes in the car, to sprinting full pelt in an attempt to score a try.
Warm-ups are essential to decrease your risk of a muscle strain. Start slow with a light jog around the oval, and build up to quick sprints over a total period of about 20 minutes.
Some sports have an official guide to how to design a good warm up with the best chance of injury prevention.
3. Make all training and warm up drills sport specific
It is crucial to make all exercises as sport-specific as possible. In other words, if your sport has lots of sprinting and changing direction, then you need to train your sprinting and ability to change directions quickly.
If your sport relies on jumping, it is essential to incorporate plyometrics training into your week.
This can be broken down even further into positions. For example, a netball Centre will need to be able to run up and down a court for 40 minutes, with bouts of jumping, landing, and directional changes, whereas a Goal Shooter will need to be able to jump, lunge, and pivot at speed.
Training and warming up in a manner consistent with how you will be playing is the best way to ensure that your body is prepared for game day!
4. Incidental exercise
If you’re struggling to find the time to exercise, incidental exercise is always a great option. Take the stairs instead of the escalator, or park a 10-minute walk away from work.
If you can get more movement throughout the week, you will be better positioned to play well when it matters, and reduce your risk of shocking the system too much when you step onto the field.
Finally, make sure that after your game, you recover well. Adequate sleep, nutrition and hydration are the mainstays of optimal recovery, so drink, eat, and sleep well, so you’re ready to tackle the next week!
Lauersen, J. B., Bertelsen, D. M., & Andersen, L. B. (2014). The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br J Sports Med, 48(11), 871- 877.
David McWilliams graduated from Macquarie University with a Doctor of Physiotherapy. He is a member of Australian Physiotherapy Association, Sports and Exercise Physiotherapy Australia, Sports Medicine Australia