5 Tips to Prevent Injury
We all know there are rehab and treatments to help you recover after an injury. But what can be done to stop you from getting injured in the first place?! This is the question that coaches, players and medical staff alike, are constantly striving to answer.
See below Andrew, physiotherapist at Physio Connex, and Craig’s (Head Medic for Wyong Roos Rugby League) tips on how to keep your body on the field:
- Load Management – is your body prepared?
This concept may be new to you but it is arguably the most important factor in preventing injury. All the professional sports organisations around the world use software and measuring tools to work out how much work each athlete is doing in each session or game.
Whilst it is important to measure how much you’re doing – by either looking at metres run or minutes you participated in – it is equally important to evaluate this against what you did last week, or even for the last 3 weeks (professional environments track all the way back to first week of pre-season!).
The aim is to build a baseline for your body or “chronic load”. It’s all about being prepared for your sport! We know that injuries are more likely to occur if you increase more than 10% from your chronic load in a short period. Whilst pre-season training often involves spikes in load as the goal is to get your body ready for the season, it is important to have some deload weeks in there too.
Variables to be mindful of:
- Increasing your training too quickly or sustaining a high intensity for too long – this increases your injury risk
- Large spikes in distance, intensity, frequency of sessions, weight, inclines etc.
- Warm up
Your body is made to move. It has hundreds of components that contribute to your training and play, from ligaments and muscles to the cartilage in your joints. Each stiffens slightly when we are at rest and becomes more flexible with movement. Our brain also takes some time to connect properly with our muscles.
So if we go too hard without getting things warm first, this leaves us open to strains, tears and injury.
Warming up should involve a few things:
- Light movements that replicate the movements you’ll be doing for your training
- A range of contraction styles – slow, fast, plyometric, isometric
- Should move through full range of movement
- Static stretching has been shown to not be effective in preventing injury, so swap it out for some dynamic movements (e.g. high knees, side shuffles etc).
- Cool Down
Cooling down follows a similar process as the warm up, but the ideas are to return the waste products from using our muscles back to our blood stream, rather than pooling in the muscle. Light contraction of our muscles after exercise reduces DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) and allows us to return to training quicker.
Cool Down routines can include:
- a slow walk or jog for 1-2min, allowing our heart rate to slowly come back to normal rhythm
- Static stretching and mobility for a minimum of 10 minutes post-exertion
- Hydration – replacing water content lost through sweat
- Light 20-minute swim or jog within 2 days of intense exercise can also help reduce muscle soreness.
- Mouth Guards
They must be worn whenever there is contact involved, whether that’s training or a game – or risk losing a tooth. Custom-made mouth guards are the best option so contact us to get in touch with the right people to fit them and keep you grinning.
Current guidelines recommend avoiding caffeine before training and games. This is due to the peaks and drops in energy levels that it creates and the risk to the heart. Caffeine (and other stimulants like guarana etc) acts to increase brain activity but in doing so also increases the heart activity. This combined with intense exercise can place the heart at risk. Caffeine is found in many sources: coffee, tea, energy drinks like V / Mother, coca cola; so keep an eye out for how much you might be having before you play.
For questions regarding the above content please contact us via the contact form on this website or by giving us a call.
By Andrew Alexander and Craig Davis