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How To Avoid Injury This Sporting Season

The winter sporting season is typically our busiest time of year, with netball and soccer being the main culprits of injury. For many players, injury occurs towards the beginning of the season due to inadequate preseason training and preparation. This often means they miss out on playing a large part of the season. For others, injury occurs towards the end of the season as they start to get tired and fatigued, and they can miss out on playing the important final games.


So what can you do to get through the season without injuring yourself?


First let’s talk about the common causes of sporting injuries

  • Differences in strength and flexibility on one side of your body, causing muscle imbalances and asymmetries

  • Sudden spikes in training- including duration, frequency, and intensity

  • Inadequate aerobic fitness

  • Sports specific injury risks eg contact vs no contact sports

  • Gender based risks

  • Poor techniques and biomechanics



Tips for avoiding injury


1. Pacing


With last year’s sport all over the place, we understand that everyone just wants to get out and play. Although you may want to jump straight in and go as hard as you can each training session and game, this is not ideal for your body! If you overload your muscles without adequate recovery, they can’t cope with the demands that your body is placing on them, resulting in injury. Pacing your activity is therefore very important with a gradual increase in training intensity and frequency.


2. Recovery


Your body needs time to recover after training and competition. Recovery is often as important as the workout itself. You should be including a cool down after training to allow for gradual recovery of your pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure. You should also stretch all the major muscle groups that you used to prevent you from developing tightness which can predispose you to injury.


3. Stretching


Stretching is important to allow your joints to move through their full range of motion, and keep the muscles flexible and adequate length. Performing dynamic stretches prior to exercise has been shown to prepare your muscles for activity, and may also help to improve your performance. Static stretching works well after sport as part of your cool down.


4. Strengthening


Strength training is important to build muscle strength to ensure your muscles are strong enough to cope with the loads placed on them, and can help improve your performance. It also is important in addressing any muscle imbalances or biomechanics that need correcting. You should be targeting the main muscle groups that are required for your sport.


5. Cardiovascular fitness and endurance


Improving your fitness is essential in sports that require lots of running such as soccer or rugby. Cardiovascular training involves exercises that get your heart pumping and increase your breathing rate such as running, cycling, swimming or stair climbing. Endurance training can protect athletes from injury as your muscles will be trained to work at the required intensity for longer. This means they are less likely to fatigue and cause injury.


6. Sport specific training drills


Training is very specific and there is not much crossover between activities. You need to ensure that what you train aligns with the requirements of your sport. For example if you need to perform quick changes of direction you will need to do speed and agility drills. Whereas if your position involves more running, you need to focus on increasing your fitness and endurance. The type of running also is important ie sprinting vs long distance. It is important to train the type of running required in your sport.



How can physiotherapy help you avoid injury?


If you had a niggling injury that was bothering you last season and is still troubling you, it is time to seek professional advice as soon as possible. Ignoring your pain and trying to push through it can result in further injury that will take longer to recover.


Physiotherapists are highly trained in assessing your muscle function, strength, flexibility, range of motion, stability and biomechanics. By assessing how you move, we can address any deficits such as muscle imbalances, weakness or poor motor control. An exercise program can then be developed specifically for your needs and help you become fitter, stronger and well equipped to tackle all the demands of your sport. We can also give you injury prevention advice and help adjust your training load if you are easing back into sport after an injury.


If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Give us a call on 9875 3760 or email info@wphphysio.com.au. We would be more than happy to help!



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