Many fall sports will kick off in the next few weeks, so consider some of these pointers to decrease the risk of injury which will keep athletes out of rehab and on the field!
A study was conducted that evaluated the effectiveness of preventive strategies and drew conclusions on the best practice for injury prevention. This study reviewed 154 clinical papers and found that preseason conditioning and education were the best protective tactics to fight in-season injuries.
So let’s ‘tackle’ the first guideline, which relates to preseason conditioning! Athletes who forgo the off season training put a great deal of strain on the body once they resume their sport. The body is not used to the volume of training which can lead to a variety of different injuries, such as tendinitis or muscle strains. Often, injuries occurring within the first few weeks of the season can be linked to inadequate off season training.
The second piece of the conclusion indicated that education was necessary; both athletes and coaches should be aware of the balance between work and rest. If the load or volume isn’t altered when over-training signs and symptoms appear the situation can easily escalate to a full blown overuse injury. An easy rule to follow to avoid an overuse injury is the 10% rule which means do not increase your weight, mileage, pace, or volume by more than 10% each week. There is a typical pattern that overuse injuries follow: discomfort that disappears during warm-up, pain/discomfort that disappears during warm up but then reappears at the end of activity, discomfort that gets worse during the activity, and finally pain/discomfort all the time. If you are starting into this cycle you need to ‘wrestle’ this problem by moderating your activity levels or seeking help from a health care professional.
Another aspect to ‘volley’ around in your head when thinking about injury prevention is warm-up and cool down. There has been a great deal of controversy regarding stretching ie. when to do it, how to do it, etc. Truth is, we don’t have much exact research on what is right and what is wrong. What everyone does agree on is that a good warm-up that brings your body temperature up and gets your heart rate going is a perfect way to prep for any activity. It is suggested that stretching after an activity or as a whole separate event is best, and primarily focusing on contract-relax or dynamic stretches.
So, with that I’ll challenge you to prep for this fall season, or any sporting season the right way to ‘obstruct’ injuries from your life!