Is it your imagination or are more people getting season ending injuries when you hear the sports news? No it is definitely not your imagination. The fact that Covid has severely restricted the ability of professionals all the way to weekend soccer kids to train at the beginning of this year has severely exposed people to the increased risk of injury. Sure, people could still go to the gym to lift weights and run on the field but the training that involves sport specific practice has just not been logistically allowed at the beginning of the season when Covid restrictions were strongly placed on us. Specific drills like dodging tackles, cutting into different directions are essential for the muscles to know when to fire with efficiency and correct timing. When the training time has been severely limited, the ability to ramp up the training season slowly is restricted and therefore leads to more injuries. The general guideline of training load is not to increase more than 10% per week. If there has been a lull in training and then full training has suddenly begun at full speed, the risk of injury is high. When there is no time for the muscles to adapt to the intensity of training, things like muscle tears or sprains can increase. Also, the lack of muscle co-ordination to high loads can expose joints to twist without the support of the muscles and lead to ligament or cartilage damage.
This sounds very dreary. What is the answer? It is so hard to answer this question. As with all competitive sport, players are generally going to always give it their all. It’s not viable most of the time to get them to play a bit gentler. Being mindful of training loads is essential to not overload your muscles or tendons. Ensuring you warm up will make your muscles and joints more supple to load. An effective cool down allows the body to recover after a game. These can all be things to minimise your risk of injury. And of course luck. Good luck!