How you can add in injury prevention strategies to your training program
Injuries are an unfortunate part of sports, but in most cases you can prevent injuries or atleast reduce your risk of getting injured. You can design your training program to not only optimise performance but also make your body resistent to injury. First thing to look at is the demands of your sport. What are the movement patterns that are required in your sport (running, throwing, kicking, changing direction ect) and what are the muscles used to perform those movements? This can give you a guide to what areas of the body may be at risk of getting overloaded and the areas that need to be made strong, resilient and robust. For example, in Basketball the most common movements are running/sprinting, jumping/landing and changing direction. The main muscles involved in these movements are hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, calves, quads, adductors and the lower back. These are the muscles that are going get worked alot and potentially overloaded. Injury prevention should be about building the resilience of those working muscles so they can tolerate the demands placed upon them.
Another way you can break it down is to look at what the most common injuries are in your sport. For example in soccer, hamstrings strains are a very common injury due to the amount of running, sprinting, accelerating and kicking. Therefore, it’s critical that soccer players incorporate hamstring strengthening exercises, sprinting/accelerating and running into their training to help build resilience in the hamstring as well improve overall performance.
Sometimes injuries occur due to external factors such as work, stress, relationships and health. Knowing how to manage your work-life-sport balance is an injury prevention strategy itself. This is less science and more art, although knowing when you can push and when you need to pull back is critcal. It’s hard to go 100% at everything in your life so you may need to modify how hard your going in certain areas. Take the time to write down what your priorties are, if training isn’t at the top of the list you need to decide how you can continue to do something that doesn’t impact your top prioritise. Something is always better than nothing.
The weakest link
Injuries may also occur because of a weakness or imbalance. You are only as strong as your weakest link so you need to identify your weak links. To identify your weakness you need to do some form of testing, so look at your movements and muscles of you sport and find a way to test them. For example, if running is important to your sport use a time trial or shuttle test to see what your running capacity is. Evaluate your score and work out whether it needs improving, if it does you know you need to add running to your program. Ideally you want to put it all togther as a holistic plan, including your life schedule, sports training, gym program and recovery. Planning and knowing what your doing is the best form of injury prevention.