When you play sport there are always periods away from competitive action. Off-seasons, periods of injury, mid-season breaks, or even missing a game/training session can mean you’ll need to be prepared for when you return to play.
We’ve previously spoken about four considerations for when returning to sport, and five key components of an effective return to sport. These, along with an effective return to sport plan are essential to support your transition.
Optimising your physical health plays a key factor as you transition back to sporting performance.
Every sport is different when it comes to body energy systems used. Your sport may be based on strength, power, endurance, be highly technical or a combination of all these. When you return to sport after a period of absence your ‘rested’ body tissues – muscles, ligaments and bone – need time to re-adapt to the ongoing physical demands.
Even if you’re happily active again, without injury, and keen to move your training along quickly, ‘hurry slowly’, noting these key points:
- Build-in regular rest days with your training, to allow your body to catch-up with your renewed and ongoing demands
- Consciously check yourself daily to ensure that you are not over-tired or stressing your body too much too soon
- Check the equipment that you use, to ensure that it gives you what your body needs
- Poor equipment, whether it be running shoes, tennis racquet or even your playing field surface might not be in the best shape
- Non-optimal equipment may cause you to ‘compensate’, especially when you have lost some condition from your break – compensations can contribute to/cause injuries
- Where possible, replace the tired equipment, or use care returning to neglected fields/playing surfaces
3. Warm-up as part of your routine
- This is really important. Don’t disregard your warm-up in your excitement to be back participating
- Warm-ups are a high priority to prepare not only your physical body, but also prepare you mentally for the skills you are about to undertake
- Take time to gradually warm-up your muscles, joints and heart with light aerobic exercise, progressing to higher intensity movement once warm
- Ensure you include sport specific movements, neuromuscular control exercises and balance/landing skills as appropriate, even some visualisation of what you need to do
- Regaining your physical condition takes time
- Increase volume slowly
- As you feel yourself getting fitter, slowly increase intensity (speed, technical difficulty, or strength components).
- Check yourself weekly, and keep a log of your progress:
- Heart rate, general fatigue/how sore or tight your muscles/joints are
- Back-off if things do not feel quite right, a good way of avoiding or minimising possible colds, flu’s or niggly injuries
If you feel concerned in any way see your GP or physio without delay.