With the upcoming season looming for many amateur athletes across the country, I thought I would take this timely opportunity to write about the importance of pre-season training and injury assessment in preparation.
“If you don’t use it, you lose it” –
A common phrase that is well placed when we describe our muscle strength, endurance and conditioning during the off season and periods where we would typically do less training. A sudden return to intense sport will put high levels of stress and load on the body, increasing your risk of injury. Hence the need to complete pre-season training relative to your sport to minimise these risks. The amount and type of pre-season conditioning that is required is relative to how active you have been during the off season.
Pre-season training allows solid foundations to be built up for fitness, agility and strength. Thus, this will improve your technical ability relative to your sport and ensure optimum performance when the first game comes along, as well as minimising injury risk. Injury happens when the load placed on the body exceeds its ability to cope. In clinic, we would commonly see muscle strains and tears, ligament sprains, joint impingements and many other acute musculo-skeletal injuries with return to seasonal sport.
There are additional contributing factors to injuries during the early season other than increased load. Muscle imbalances and asymmetries in strength and flexibility will impact even more on the body when deconditioned. Issues with inadequate aerobic fitness and poor technique and biomechanics are far more prevalent when returning to sport after a period of rest, and therefore will increase injury risk and reduce performance.
So, knowing the importance of pre-season training to increase performance for the season and reduce injury risk, what does this training actually look like?
Regardless of your type of training that will be specific to your sport, it is important to pace yourself. Training load will need to be monitored and gradually increased to gently stress the joints, muscles and ligaments of the body within reaching but acceptable amounts. The body learns to adapt to cope with the increase in load that is being demanded of it to be able to cope with various activities and sport.
However, the other facet of injury prevention is recovery. Often overlooked but equally important. Time to recover is crucial to minimise the impact of cumulative load on the body that could lead to injuries from training down the line. Other than warming up, incorporating a simple cool down after your session will allow gradual recovery of heart rate and blood pressure. This will increase steady blood flow around the body which is essential in the repair of loaded tissues.
Pre-season training incorporates a mix of cardiovascular and resistance training to improve fitness and strength. Flexibility and mobility training ensures good range of motion around a functional joint. Finally, speed and agility and sports specific training bridges the gap from the gym to the pitch.
If you require guidance you can always book in for an session with an experienced physiotherapist who would assess muscle function and strength, as well as your range of motion, stability and flexibility. Therefore, by assessing how you move we can identify and address any deficits in muscle imbalances, weaknesses or poor motor control. This is an initialised assessment relevant to you and your sports specific goals.
If you would like some support planning your preseason routine then come and visit us at our Thornbury, Thornbury Active or Yate clinics. Just contact our reception team on 01454 838366 or book online.