HOW TO PREVENT PRE-SEASON INJURIES
STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE CONDITIONING
Have you ever noticed just how many injuries occur during pre-season. Why? Because most athletes have the misconception that pre-season is the time to get into shape. If athletes would take the time to train properly and come into pre-season in playing shape, then many of the muscle pulls and overuse injuries would be avoided.
To begin with it is important that athletes of all sports stay on a strengthening program at least three times a week. The lifting should include all body parts, but should also be sport specific. For example, upper body athletes like swimmers, baseball and softball players should include rotator cuff strengthening along with their regular lifting program. Either their coach or athletic trainer can specify these exercises. For athletes who participate in sports like track, soccer, field hockey, and lacrosse it is important to maintain a good lower body strengthening program including; quadriceps, hamstrings, groin, hip, and calf muscles along with an upper body program. Many athletes tend to overlook the importance of a good strengthening program, which inevitably leads to muscle pulls. Therefore, if we can keep athletes on a religious strengthening program it will prevent many of the muscle pulls we see in the beginning of the season.
Conditioning is also extremely important and needs to be sport specific. If the athlete plays soccer there needs to be a mix of endurance (ex. 2 miles runs) interspersed with speed work. Short explosive sprints mixed with running simulate what takes place during a soccer game. A soccer player needs to have the endurance to complete a 90-minute game, along with speed and explosiveness to make runs and play defense. If a soccer player only runs two miles a day four times a week before preseason, then come practice time this player will struggle with sprinting and even the simple task of kicking the ball, resulting in injury.
Along these lines it is important that athletes spend sometime playing their actual sport or doing sport related drills before preseason. If you are a soccer player- kick a ball. If you play field hockey- work with your stick.
Running with some explosive sprints is much different than running explosive sprints bent over holding a stick for an entire practice. These are added demands we expect our body to do 1,2 or even 3 times a day during pre-season. It is only fair to prepare the body for this type of stress.
If athletes take the time to get into sport specific shape and walk onto the field in shape for pre-season, they will avoid many unnecessary injuries and will have a much stronger and enjoyable season ahead of them.