How should I go about returning to sport?

Albury Osteopath Bailey Lang discusses the important aspects of returning to sport after time away.

Bailey’s decision to return

It’s been 2 years since I’ve stepped onto the netball court, and next week I’ll make my return to the fierce competition of Beechworth Night Netball!!

Whilst I’m very excited to be returning to the netball court with a couple of my family members (Aunty Ali and cousin Keely!), in the back of my mind I keep asking myself “is my body going to do what I want it to do?”, and “ is my body prepared enough to play again and not get any injuries?”.

When I finished Netball 2 years ago, I was riddled with long term injuries in both my Achilles tendons and also my left hamstring tendon. Since then my exercise routine has been fairly slack with random gym sessions, walking and some running sessions. I also went back to university and spent 40+ hours per week sitting, so my activity levels plummeted over the last 2 years.

So what’s the first step towards returning to the sport or activity that you love?

First things first, work out a schedule.

Over the last 3 months I have been thinking I may return to competition netball next year. Whilst this his 6 months away from pre-season training dates, I have started to prepare for the return!! To get back into my weekly exercise routine I drew up my work schedule, and have organised different exercise sessions to fit in around work. The activities that I have chosen for myself are very different from one another to add variety, interest and to also exercise the whole body in different ways to make it robust! Netball is a very dynamic game, there is running, walking, jumping, hopping, changing direction, stopping and staring very quickly, and getting knocked around by your opponents (so not a non-contact sport!!).

A graded return to activity is a necessity.

This is REALLY important! How many of you have had really good intentions and went to hard to fast and ended up blowing as gasket? This inevitably puts us off and we stop and don’t return. Start with small and lower intensity sessions, and build from there.

I have started with some basic aerobic activity such as interval runs, cycling and bush walks, these activities all have different demands on the body in the way we move, but they all increase cardiorespiratory fitness. My strength training includes weight lifting at the gym and Pilates 1-2 times per week for each, and again different demands on the body, but increasing muscle strength. The last 2 weeks I have also added into the gym routine some plyometric training including box jumps, leaping and hopping, mimicking movements of Netball. I have also added in some agility training with ladder runs and change of direction.

Give yourself some TLC!!

At home I have my trusty foam roller and spikey balls, now I don’t smash myself with these, I use them once maybe twice a week, and I do 2 decent stretch sessions a week away from all my other activities. The science behind stretching is worth a blog all to itself, and the jury is still out, but what I have read in a couple of articles, is that prolonged static stretching a couple of times per week, outside of sport/exercise, helps to improve muscle efficiency/flexibility and joint range of motion, which when these are combined reduces our injury rate! I have included 2 rest days in my exercise routine to allow my body to rest and recover, and this is very important. Rest days allow us to get fitter and stronger! If we don’t have rest days, this can lead to fatigue, which can lead to injury. So give yourself some much needed time out!

It’s ok to feel soreness

After starting new training, this type of discomfort is normal and more often than not, by going and doing your next exercise session it helps to relieve it. However, if the discomfort persists for more than 48-72 hours, it is worth checking in with your preferred allied health professional to check it out. The majority of the time it will be a minor hiccup and easily sorted out. By leaving injuries it may potentially get worse and be harder to manage if left for longer. Early detection and education of injuries will get you back out training sooner, or by getting advice and modifying your activity will keep you training which is even better!

So get back on the old proverbial horse with these tips and enjoy your sport and exercise!! I look forward to comparing stories with you when you come in and see us!!

 

Dr Bailey Lang

Osteopath & Exercise Physiologist

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