The Important Of Pre-Season Training
Many sports are not played all year round, which means that most players have a period of time where they are not training or competing. Whether it be soccer, rugby, netball or athletics, pre-season training and injury assessment is essential in preparing for the next season.
Muscle strength, endurance and conditioning declines during the periods that you are not training or competing. Suddenly going back to the high demands of your sport without adequate conditioning will place your body at risk of injury, as it is not equipped to cope with the challenges of your sport. Your body will need to regain fitness, flexibility and strength to prepare you for the season ahead.
This is why pre-season training is so important. The amount of pre-season training necessary is often determined by how much time you have taken off after the season ended. If you continue training through the off season, then your pre-season demands are reduced.
Pre-season training allows you to build solid foundations for your fitness, agility and strength. It also allows you to improve your technical ability, and ensure optimum performance for when it’s time to get back to your sport. One of the most important reasons why you must do pre-season training is that it will dramatically reduce your risk of injury throughout the competitive season.
What are the common causes of injuries in sport?
- Muscle imbalances and asymmetries where there are differences in strength and flexibility on one side of your body
- Sudden spike in training load
- Gender based risks eg females more likely to injure the ACL
- Sports specific injury risks
- Inadequate aerobic fitness
- Poor techniques and biomechanics
Pacing your activity is important. Although you may just want to jump straight in and go as hard as you can each training session, this is not ideal for your body! After a long break during your off season, your body won’t be ready for that high level of training straight away. You can be placed at risk of injury if you don’t pace your activity appropriately.
Injury occurs when the load exceeds the ability of your body to adapt. Training load must be monitored. If you don’t stress your muscles enough, then they won’t adapt to increase capacity and tolerance to certain activities. On the other hand, 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.
Recovery after training is also very important. Athletes need time for their body to recover after training and competition. Recovery is often as important as the workout itself. Incorporating a cool down after your training session is recommended to allow for a gradual recovery of pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure. It is important to include stretching of all the major muscle groups that you used during your session, to prevent you from developing tightness which can ,,predispose you to injury.
What to include in your pre-season training session
- Cardiovascular training to help increase your fitness
- Resistance training to build muscle strength and address any muscle imbalances that you may have
- Flexibility training to allow your joints to move through their full range of motion
- Speed and agility training are important for sports involving quick changes of direction or speed
- Sports specific drills to ensure your body is ready for all the challenges of your sport!
How can a physiotherapist help in your preseason preparation?
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 you may have such as muscle imbalances, weakness, or poor motor control. We can prescribe you with an individually tailored exercise program to help target all your needs so that you are well equipped and ready to begin your sporting season. We can give you advice on injury prevention and help you adjust your training load to optimise your pre-season preparation.
If you had a niggling injury that was bothering you last season, and is still troubling you now, then it is time to seek professional advice before competition starts. ,,Ignoring your pain can result in further injury that will take longer to recover.