Sports injuries are very common problems that I see every day as an Osteopath. This is a particular area I’m interested and experienced in. In this blog, I’m going to share my top tips for preventing getting injured and avoiding the frustration that comes with them.
Whether you are an elite athlete wanting to be at your best and smash records or you are a casual jogger wanting to maintain the ability to exercise for the health benefits, it is important to avoid injuries. Why? Because injuries suck! And, every sportsperson I’ve known normally wants to get off to a flying start to the season. I really enjoy working with sports people to not only assist with pain relief and resolution of their injuries but help with pre-season prep, optimal movement, function and performance as well as injury prevention. Of course, you could sustain an injury from being sandwiched between all of the Burgess brothers tackling you from opposite directions, all at once. In that case, injury may be unavoidable. However, suboptimal biomechanics may be why you end up with a hamstring strain or lower back pain. Here’s an example: poor lower back conditioning or poor hip range of motion can be significant factors that lead you to a strained low back while falling over during a game of soccer. Or suboptimal flexibility/mobility may lead to a soft tissue injury when you go to clear the ball in the 70th minute of your first game back. The Problem The vast majority of causes of injuries that I see are due to lack of range of motion of certain areas, poor conditioning and/or poor form. The Solution The solution is to prep now. As pre-season comes to an end shortly, it’s crucial that your body is moving well, has a degree of conditioning/game readiness and any issues have been identified and addressed. So here are my 3 tips to make sure that happens this year.
1. Dynamic Warm Up is not Negotiable
I am a fan of using static stretching for flexibility where it is required. However, prolonged static stretching has been shown to acutely reduce performance in sports that require explosive force [Behm and Kibele 2007] [Kay and Blazevich 2012]. It is however dependant on what sport you’re playing and what your priorities are. For some sports like gymnastics, ballet or dancing where extreme ranges of motion are necessary, prolonged static stretching may be necessary. There is some discussion how in some instances prolonged static stretching can cause injury but it’s usually when the individual is stretching overzealously or if there is a medical vulnerability such as hypermobility disorders.
The good news is, there is research that shows dynamic stretching is definitely the way to go before a game. So you can safely warm up and, in addition, dynamic warm up nullifies the negative effects of static stretching [Loughran M, et al. 2016] and maintains the increased range of motion obtained by the static stretching [Murphy et al. 2010]. One size certainly doesn’t fit all, so if you absolutely love stretching out with static stretches before a game for flexibility and you swear it works for you, make sure that you follow with dynamic warm up and make that the main component of your warm up.
What a good functional dynamic warm up can do is literally heat the muscle up [Fletcher and Jones 2004] which increases muscle energy production and gets them firing quicker [Hodgson et al. 2005]. It has been shown to improve athletic performance [Yamaguchi et al. 2008] and reduce the chances of injury [Soligard et al. 2008]. You’re pretty much mimicking the movements you will do in your sport but in a safe and controlled manner. So, I don’t care if no one else is doing it. This is non-negotiable. If you want to prevent minor injuries, this is my number 1 tip. If you search on YouTube “dynamic warm up (insert your favourite team)” I guarantee that’s what they’re doing. Here is my favourite.
2. Be Like Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods started practicing swinging a golf club at 6 months old. With coaching and lots of training, his body was able to perfect certain movements. In other words, coaching is highly valuable and training is absolutely essential. I say PERFECT PRACTICE, MAKES PERFECT.
3. Get Checked Out Now
(while there is still time to fix things before the season starts).
This is another deal breaker and game changer at the same time. Detailed functional movement screening by a professional allied health provider is a must. We are trained to see things that others aren’t. At Dapto Osteopathic Clinic, we use a Movement Assessment Tool (MAT) which we feel is the best tool for this.
For a MAT provider near you, please contact these guys. Functional movement screening is the key to our success here. We look at how your body is moving and provide treatment and advice based on this. If I could show you how to do this bit, I would. But really, this part takes years of training so you really are best of investing some time and money getting this done. You won’t regret it. I hope that you find this post useful. If this post resonates with you and you’d like to take a positive step further, whether you have an acute injury that you are struggling with, a recurring injury that’s niggling in the background or you simply want to get screened for any potential predisposing factors to injury, give us a call on 02 4260 8844.
Behm D.G., and Kibele A.: Effects of differing intensities of static stretching on jump performance. European Journal of Applied Physiology 2007; 101: pp. 587-594
Fletcher I.M., and Jones B.: The effect of different warm-up stretch protocols on 20 meter sprint performance in trained rugby union players. Journal of Strength Conditioning Research 2004; 18: pp. 885-888
Hodgson M., Docherty D., and Robbins D.: Post-activation potentiation: underlying physiology and implications for motor performance. Sports Medicine 2005; 34: pp. 585-595
Kay A.D., and Blazevich A.J.: Effect of acute static stretch on maximal muscle performance: A systematic review. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise 2012; 44: pp. 154-164
Loughran M, Glasgow P., Chris Bleakley, McVeigh J. The effects of a combined static-dynamic stretching protocol on athletic performance in elite Gaelic footballers: A randomised controlled crossover trial. Physical Therapy in Sport, 2017-05-01, Volume 25, Pages 47-54
Murphy J.R., Di Santo M.C., Alkanani T., and Behm D.G.: Aerobic activity before and following short-duration static stretching improves range of motion and performance vs. a traditional warm-up. Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism 2010; 35: pp. 679-690
Soligard T., Myklebust G., Steffen K., Holme I., Silvers H., and Bizzini M.: Comprehensive warm-up programme to prevent injuries in young female footballers: Cluster randomised controlled trial. British Medical Journal 2008; 337: pp. 2469-2478
Yamaguchi T., Ishuu K., Yamanaka M., and Yasuda K.: Acute effects of dynamic stretching exercise on power output during concentric dynamic constant external resistance leg extension. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2008; 21: pp. 1238-1244