Preseason. Some hate it, some love it! With many sports having just finished a lengthy preseason such as cricket and some due to commence over the next few months leading into the winter sports, it is a worth a talk about what you can do to maximise your performance.
It’s no secret that preseason training is where a lot of injuries develop and end up plaguing the avid sports goer well into the season of their chosen sport. This can range from a simple sprained ankle to a multitude of frustrating overuse injuries….and those general niggles that seem to change from one week to the next.
There are many reasons why injury during preseason is so prevalent and each person will be different to the next, however some common trends that we see at the clinic often include;
- Inadequate recovery from an injury sustained during the previous season
- Change in sporting codes
- Returning to sport after a season off
- Poor fitness going into preseason
- Extended rest post season (ie – doing nothing!)
- Changes in training environment, such as hard court to sand.
- Poorly designed or nonspecific programs.
So the question is, what can you do to reduce your chance of injury and improve your performance during season? If you are someone that struggles to keep up during preseason or find that you are plagued by injury 4 weeks in, then the following 5 tips may just help you make it through unscathed.
1. Use your new found time free of trainings to seek help for appropriate management of those in season niggles, so you can start preseason injury free. Your physiotherapist will be able to assist you in the best way to manage this and direct you to incorporate a treatment program with your sport in mind.
2. Treat yourself to a professional screening session! Even if you are not currently carrying an injury, this is a fabulous way that will enable your health practitioner to identify areas that are not only putting you at risk of injury, but also likely limiting your sporting performance. Prevention is always better than cure and this can be time and money very well spent.
3. Maintain some level of fitness in the off season. The age old saying, if you don’t use it, you lose it. The phenomenon of ‘detraining’ can occur very quickly once the season is over resulting in a loss at a physiological level which translates to performance and the body needing to work harder to regain fitness. Certain tissues in the body, such as tendons, don’t respond well to change. Going from full in season duties to no training, then straight into preseason is a recipe perfect for development of overuse injuries such as tendinopathies. If 5-6 sessions a week is normal during season, 2-3 session will usually see the athlete maintain reasonable fitness in the off season.
4. Change up your training! This is your chance to do something different or incorporate things you have wanted to work on…or maybe should have been working on in-season. You can still keep things specific to your sport, but change it up slightly and keep it fun. For example if netball is usually your thing, enter into a basketball comp for the off season, similar on court requirements but a refreshing change mentally. Or on the other hand, ask your health professional for a new and challenging gym or home program to work on areas that need improvement.
5. Don’t be frightened of looking ‘soft’! In other words if you know you are not up to speed, or have not maintained any level of fitness in the off season, talk to your coaching staff – preferably before you do those 10 hill sprints on the beach and strain your calf! Overloading the body can happen very quickly and the body needs to adapt and prepare itself for big spikes in exercise, particularly when these are multiple times a week. Gradual and incremental increases in activity, relating to frequency, intensity and duration are the key and any little niggles should be taken care of straight away.
The common trend with those tips? If you haven’t picked it already – keep active during the off season! Keeping on top of niggly or unresolved injuries and ensuring that you have some level of fitness going into preseason is very important regarding injury prevention and can have a big impact on the performance of your upcoming season. So, if you want help in establishing a good preseason routine for your preseason, contact us at the clinic for more information.