Whether you’re a teenager trying out for the team, or a weekend athlete anxious to knock the dust off their golf clubs, whipping bodies into game shape should be the first priority. This can come to an abrupt end when sidelined by an injury.
The first rule in sports-related injuries is to try to prevent them from happening in the first place. Appropriate training methods can strengthen the musculoskeletal system which is essential to avoiding noncontact injuries such as sprains and strains.
In many cases, good training can also decrease the likelihood of contact injuries. Weight-bearing and load-bearing conditioning help to strengthen joints and tendons, so if in a precarious situation, you stand a better chance of controlling those joints or repositioning themselves to avoid and injury.
As a certified personal trainer, I can help develop a program for a specific sport or a good solid fitness base. “Pre-habilitation,” or preparatory training, will help reduce the likelihood of getting hurt. Anything that can be done for rehabilitation can be done for pre-habilitation as well.
Here are some handy tips for starting a pre-habilitation program:
- Get medical clearance. Make sure you are physically ready for activity and cleared by your physician to start the program.
- Complete a fitness assessment. It is important to see where you are now. Without that, it‘s difficult to judge where you are going and the activeness of the training program.
- Know the primary injury sites for the sport. What are some of the things most likely to happen? Ask about training techniques that can help prevent them. For example, there are a lot of ankle and knee injuries in field sports, and shoulder injuries in swimmers. Proper training helps to pre-habilitate those areas.
- Stay hydrated. Above and beyond reducing heat-related illnesses, once you lose even 2 to 3 percent in water weight, you will experience a pretty significant reduction in performance.
- Always start with a dynamic warm-up. A dynamic warm-up increases blood flow, warms up muscle tissue, and enhances flexibility and mobility. A good dynamic warm-up is a slow jog. Gradually increase the amplitude of your movements by driving your knees up higher.
- Work on total body conditioning. Some injuries are the result of not having a balanced training program. If you increase muscle mass quickly, your tendons and joints may not keep up at the same rate. That’s why focusing on a particular muscle group, such as doing bench presses, may set you up for a potential injury. Also, you risk putting your body in unnatural positions when you are strong in one place but weak in another.
- Seek a certified personal trainer for a science-based training program that will ensure you have a balanced workout.
The National Strength & Conditioning Association