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Return to Sport – Reducing the Risk of Injuries Post Isolation

Have you started a new exercise routine because of iso? Gyms have been shutlocal pools are closed, local sporting clubs are closed and even the national parks have been closedThis is the reality for us here in the North West and has resulted in large changes to exercise routines. If you’ve been for a walk recently you will notice how many people have taken up walking, running and cycling and if you’re on social media you’ve probably seen all sorts of home gym routines. All this is great, and we should all be aiming to keep activebut unfortunately it often results in some of us going too hard too soon and ending up with injuries.  

So, with restrictions slowly starting to ease, sporting clubs starting to train and gyms close to opening again, how can we minimise the risk of these injuries 

WHAT YOU’RE READY TO DO VERSES WHAT YOU ACTUALLY DO: 

Firstly, we need to look at why you get injured. Most injuries occur when the amount of work you do exceeds what our body is accustomed or conditioned to do. Another way to look at this is the amount of load you place on your body exceeds the capacity of your tissues.  

Let’s break this down:  

  • Load: the total amount of force placed on your body.
    Can be in a one-off instant such as a collision or can be gradual such as when running
     or swimmingLoad can also be emotional and psychological in nature for example an overwhelmingly busy time at work or an extra stressful period (eg. Covid-19, working from home, being stood down, home schooling etc). 
  • Capacity: the amount of work that your body is conditioned to do/is capable of doing.
    Capacity can 
    be affected by previous injuries, previous levels of fitness, lack of sleep and also psychological things like stress and worry.  

Here is a great video by Kevin Maggs (twitter: @runningreform) that explains the tradeoff between load and capacity and how this relates to injuryhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1rp_v4Dr3g 

HOW TO KEEP EXERCISING & REDUCE THE RISK OF GETTING INJURED?

One of the best things about the human body is that it is adaptive. Muscles can grow and get stronger, bones become stronger and more dense even tendons and ligaments can become thicker and more robust. The thing is your body needs time to make these adaptations. Your body will adapt to load if it’s introduced slowly and this is called progressive overload.  

All we need to do is make sure that the amount of activity you do doesn’t suddenly increase and that we spread it out over weeks, sometimes even months, to let your body adapt. But it’s not always that easy.

HOW TO MONITOR YOUR LOAD: 

Monitoring your load is one of the easiest ways to keep track of how much you are doing. It’s often easy to forget what you did yesterday let alone 2-3 weeks ago.  

For instance, some of the easy ways to do this are: 

  • Keep a training diary and jot down any niggles  
  • Use an app to track your activity  
  • Set a weekly routine or program that you can stick to 

WHAT IF I’M ALREADY FIT & STRONG – DOES THAT MEAN I CAN DO MORE? 

Not necessarily. For example, if you are a great swimmer and swim five times a week your body is highly conditioned to swimming. If you have been forced to take up running in the meantime to stay fit you may not be able to run 5 times a week as your body is not used to the repetitive hard impact on your legs. This is true for many different sports, for example a jockey is most likely not in the best condition to play in the front row in a game of rugby. Both athletes are fit, however not necessarily for the other sport.  

It’s also important to consider the specific needs of your sport/activity. As there hasn’t been as much exposure to gyms, facilities (footy grounds, basketball courts, hockey fields), it’s likely that your training hasn’t involved all the aspects of your sport (e.g. changing direction, sprinting, evading opponents, backpedaling, body contact, long kicking/passing). While you may think you’ve been maintaining some level of conditioning in the form of cardiovascular fitness or strength, it doesn’t directly transfer across to these specifics of sports. As a result, it’s vital that your coaches and yourselves, gradually reintroduce these activities and skills, in order to provide your body time to adapt and as a result, reduce the risk of sustaining an injury. 

WHAT NEXT?

  • Stay active but if it is a new activity give your body time to adapt 
  • Keep a track of niggles as it is normal to feel sore when starting something new  
  • Gradually progress back to more sports specific tasks 

Our Physiotherapists and Exercise Physiologists are highly skilled in managing injuries, rehabilitation and exercise programming and prescription.  If you would like some advice on how to make sure that you progressively overload your program or help with managing your niggles please don’t hesitate to contact us.  

 You can book appointments online by heading to our website or by phoning your local practice.

DEVONPORT/LATROBE – 6424 7511
LAUNCESTON – 6334 0622
SHEARWATER – 6428 7500
ULVERSTONE – 6425 5997