The winter sport season is fast approaching, and we are already treating a number of people who have had the unfortunate luck of getting injured in pre-season training. This is not uncommon, so here are some tips on how to help avoid this yourself:
1. Warm up thoroughly.
Make sure you give yourself enough time before training/games to gradually warm up. This includes stretching, any mobility work you might want to do (if you don’t own a foam roller/hockey ball or similar, you may want to consider one), and gradually ramping up the intensity of running, kicking, jumping and other sport specific movements.
2. Put in some work outside of team training.
Team training for most non-professional athletes will often cover skills and fitness. You might need to do some strength training to help correct weaknesses or imbalances, or perhaps you were a little slack in the off season and need to do some extra fitness training. Being underprepared for the physical demands of your sport is a great way to get injured!
Powerlifters will usually be familiar with the phrase ‘Train, Eat, Sleep, Repeat’. Two out of three (eat/sleep) are geared towards sustaining the third (training) and this applies to other sports as well. Make sure you are covering the basics – getting enough (preferably quality) food to fuel your training and recovery, and try to ensure you get enough sleep (as that is where most of your recovery will happen). Those two alone will get you a long way. Other strategies include regular soft tissue work (foam rolling, massage), icing problem areas after training, cold showers and a million others. But you need to cover the basics first.
4. Don’t ignore aches and pains.
Listen to your body, and take care of things that need some attention. This might mean focusing your mobility work on things you know are an issue, skipping a training session to let things have some more time to recover, or seeing a professional to get an outside opinion/help. The longer you let things go, the longer they take to recover – get on top of it early.
As Jake the Dog once said, wisely ‘Festerings always bad, man. There’s no good kind of festering!’
Chris Mooney, Physiotherapist