So it’s that time of year again – players around the country are beginning to drag themselves off the couch and back out on the track in an effort to get their fitness up to scratch for season 2020. 

But before you do that, ask yourself the question: 

Did your body hold up to the rigors of the season just gone? 

Those who participate in team sports will understand how frustrating it can be to have injured teammates sitting out on the sidelines or to be sitting out themselves. As Physiotherapists, we see a lot of sporting athletes present with injuries they have sustained during training or games that require significant rehabilitation periods before being able to return to playing their sport. Resultantly, it’s important to take steps to ensure your upcoming season is one in which you’re a regular contributor and not limited by injury.

How can you do this, you ask? Here’s how… 

To reduce your risk of injury, it is important that players are able to meet the physical demands that their sport of choice requires. Injury prevention programs have become more frequently employed as a part of pre-season and in-season training to reduce the risk of injury occurrence, the associated time away from injury and improve performance-based outcomes.

Most importantly: 

“ There is strong evidence to support the implementation of these programs in reducing the risk of injuries and improving player performance with minimal cost associated” 

 The purpose of this article is to provide you with all the information you need to know about injury prevention programs and equip you with the necessary resources and guidelines to start your own!

Why are injury prevention programs important?

 

Lower limb injury rates in young athletes have significantly increased in the last decade, particularly those requiring longer periods of time away from sport and extensive rehabilitation, such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. Early injury prevention programs have focused specifically on reducing the risk of ACL injuries that occur at all levels of sports participation, from adolescents to adults. These programs have proven to be highly effective with evidence showing; 

  • 50% reduction in all ACL injuries in all athletes.
  • 67% reduction for non-contact ACL injuries in females.  

Additionally, similar programs implemented in the Australian Football League  have shown to reduce 50% of all types of knee injuries, 40% of ankle injuries and a 22% reduction in other lower limb injuries. (Webster & Hewett 2018, Finch et al. 2016 & Grimm et al. 2016). 

Not only do programs like this reduce the risk of players sustaining injuries, they also improve performance based outcome measures including single leg hop, 20m sprint, vertical jump and agility tests (Ayala et al. 2017 & Barengo et al. 2014).

 

What does it involve?

 

Injury prevention programs will often be incorporated into your normal scheduled training and go for a duration of 10-15 minutes. They can be used to replace a general warm up that might usually involve 10 minutes of jogging and a couple of leg swings. 

 Injury prevention programs will include; 

–       A dynamic warm up aiming to put the body through all directions of movement and activate key muscle groups.

–       Strength-based exercises which may include lunges, hamstring specific exercises, calf raises and core stability exercises. 

–       Balance and landing-based exercises with an emphasis on single limb stabilisation. 

–       Agility and plyometric based exercises, which may involve movements demanding change of direction, acceleration/deceleration, jumping or hopping.  

It’s important to include exercises as part of this warm up which replicate common movement patterns that are performed in your chosen sport. This will ensure players are appropriately prepared for the specific demands of their sport. 

How often do I need to perform this program? 

Guidelines state that in order to complete injury prevention programs effectively, players must complete 10-15 minutes, 2-3 times per week for the duration of the pre-season. It is important that aspects of this program then continue throughout the duration of the season to maintain the training adaptations and physiological effects. Evidence has shown that a duration of 30 minutes per week is required during the season to achieve maximal reduction in injury risk (Sugimoto et al, 2014).

How can a Physio help?

Firstly, an experienced Physio we will take a detailed history of your previous injuries and discuss your specific sporting demands to help understand your personal goals. At Thrive Physio Plus we complete a thorough assessment of joint range of movement and muscle strength and endurance, whilst incorporating functional outcome measures that will allow us to track your progress throughout the season. We’ll also help formulate an individualised preventative program based on your chosen sport and training schedule and take you through it to ensure you feel confident in  implementing these exercises independently. 

From there, we’ll touch base over the course of the season to  ensure your exercises are progressed as tolerated to maximise the benefit of your program. As a way to maintain your strength during the season, we offer small group individualised exercise classes where we can provide you with the necessary exercises to help manage those ‘niggles’ and reduce the risk of injuries occurring during the season. 

Where can I find more information?

The links below contain more information on some of the established programs for certain sports including soccer, netball and football. 

Soccer Fifa 11+ https://www.kort.com/uploadedFiles/KORT/Content/Services/Sports_Medicine/Concussion_Management/FIFA-the-11-Booklet.pdf 

Netball knee

https://knee.netball.com.au/

AFL prep to play:

https://coach.afl/prep-play-warm

 

 If you have any questions or would like to get your injury prevention program started today, feel free to call the clinic on 8490 0777 or book an appointment online here

 

-The Thrive Physio Plus Team