Team sport & minimising the risk of injury
Participating in a social team sport as an adult is a great way to stay fit and to have a terrific time with friends.
However, sometimes our bodies do not respond quite as we would like them to. Recovery can be a little slower and susceptibility to injuries higher than we might recall from our school days. An injury or a niggle that stops you playing at your best, or even keeps you off the court for the rest of the season is hugely disappointing and frustrating for both you and the team!
To perform at your best and minimise the chance of injury it is worthwhile investing some effort and focus into improving your overall physical ability. With some smart choices you can better equip yourself for an active, full season.
It’s time to make those smart choices!
Here is your essential checklist. Every item is an important component of minimising injury and keeping you in the game:
- Appropriate footwear and kit
- Sport-specific conditioning and fitness work
- A dynamic warm up
- A warm down
- Intelligent modification of activity levels and load
- Use of correct technique & skills
- Good hydration and nutrition
This list is particularly interesting to the modern social athlete (that’s you!) because of concepts like ‘sport-specific’ fitness work and the ‘dynamic warm up’. These concepts are changing the way kiwi athletes of all ages and skill levels are being guided to prepare for training and games.
It makes sense to incorporate the sorts of exercises frequently used in your sport into your warm-up such as short sprints, shuttle runs and changing direction quickly. Add appropriate strengthening exercises, running and stretching as well. Plus don’t just warm-up once a week on game day. Complete a good set of warm-up activities for each training session as well.
The ACC SportSmart programme has been promoting this improved, evidence-based approach to warming up for a couple of years now. Their recommended warm-up exercises and activities are based on the FIFA 11+ warm up programme that has been shown to be highly effective in reducing a players risk of injury when completed 2-3 times a week.
The programme has been adapted for different codes in collaboration with each national sport organisation. As a result there are some excellent online resources available to everyone – take a look at NetballSmart, TouchFit 360, RugbySmart and FitForFootball. Each code is motivated to help their members be a part of their chosen sport as long as possible and get the most out of it. Central to this is taking an evidence-based more comprehensive approach to preparation.
So what does a good dynamic warm-up look like?
A dynamic warm up prepares the body and reduces the chance of injury. It should include elements of strengthening, running, dynamic preparation and sport specific activity. If for example, you’ve signed up for a local indoor-netball team, then a quick snapshot of the activities advocated as part of your warm-up are:
- Strengthening – bench, hamstrings, balance activities
- Running – straight ahead, hip out, butt kicks, circling, shoulder contact, forward-backward sprints
- Dynamic preparation – squats, lunges, jumping and landing and turning
- Sport Specific – running and stopping, plant and cut movements
Activities will differ between training and games. In particular you would complete the strengthening exercises for training sessions but leave this element out on game day. The warm-up takes about 15-20 minutes and there are different levels of it depending on your fitness and capability level. So as you and the team progress the warm-up activities progress with you.
For a full explanation of each activity the NetBallSmart site is worth a look.
This kind of thinking has come a long way from taking a quick jog around the field, some static stretches and then running on with the starting whistle! It’s worth thinking about and if your team isn’t already incorporating some of these recommendations into weekly training and pre-game prep… maybe it’s time.
When to come and see your Physiotherapist:
No matter how much preparation and strengthening we do, niggles and injuries will still occur. If you require an assessment of a new sprain/strain/pull, which hasn’t resolved with rest, ice, elevation & compression over 24-48 hours then come and see us for assistance. There will also be situations where you need advice on managing an old injury or assessment of pain that hasn’t resolved in more than 2 weeks.
Our physiotherapist team can also provide support with both prep tissue work pre-event and recovery tissue work post event. Plus advice & assessment for taping or strapping correctly if needed.
Our goal is to support you to have another successful and fun social sport season – no matter what your level or age. Game on.