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Always Injured?

Always injured?

Did you know one of the biggest risk factors for injuries are previous injuries?! Yep, athletes who have been injured before are more likely to be injured again when compared to athletes with minimal injury history. So how do we ensure re-injury rates stay low and athletes can return to performance bigger, stronger and faster than ever before? Strap in, here we go.

Follow a Load Management Plan!- Load Management isn’t a very sexy topic but its crucial to returning athletes back to sport successfully. What is Load Management? Have you or other athletes around you decided after injury to have a harder than suggested training session because the body was feeling good? Did it then turn into a niggly, tight and sore muscle the next day, leaving you thinking you may injured yourself again? Thats poor load management. It is easily done and almost every athlete will be able to put their hand up and admit to a similar circumstance. Great Load Management is well planned, incrementally adding extra load and intensity over a period of months. Typically this increase will sit between 5-20% extra per week with de-load weeks dispersed accordingly. For example, an athlete post ACL reconstruction who hasn’t run in 5-6 months needs to start slow and boring. It may look like the example below:

Week 1: 10x50m Jogs and walk back recoveries (2x sessions per week)

Week 2: 5x100m Jogs + 5x50m Jogs all with walk back recoveries. (2x sessions per week)

Week 3: 10x 100m Jogs and walk back recoveries (2x sessions per week)

Week 4: 10x 100m Jogs + 5x50m Jogs all with walk back recoveries (2x sessions per week)

Sure we all steer off the plan occasionally, but drifting too far away can be a concern for injuries down the track. Through steady load increases, we gradually increase tendon load and muscle durability. If fitness is a concern, we highly recommend cardiovascular exercise away from the affected sight.

Ok, I have broken my leg and can’t train.. Now what? Heaps! There are many upper body cardiovascular fitness exercises out there. Instead of pedalling a bike with your feet, jump on the ground and use your hands! It’s a poor mans arm ergo, perfect for any athlete at home or in the gym. Your S&C coach will be able to adjust your load so we don’t overdo the upper body workouts and minimise the risk of overuse. Plus there is significant research suggesting that training the non affected limb will not only strengthen the working side, but also the injured side! This accounts for both upper and lower body injuries. SO, being injured doesn’t mean quitting the gym, it gives you an opportunity to improve fitness, work on other aspects of your training you wouldn’t usually consider.

DON’T STOP - Athletes who give up after injury and decide to return to sport after it’s healed are destined for re-injury. Cardiovascular fitness is important for the recovery process. If you are not fit enough to finish your gym session, what does that do for your rehabilitation? It makes you breathe harder, increase your exertion and ultimately decrease your output due to less input. If you are injured, have two days to catch up on Netflix and then its time to get on your bike! (Hands or feet). Your Strength coach will be able to work around any injury and give you alternatives. There are thousands of exercises out there, sometimes it requires just a little bit of ingenuity and creativity. (Something most strength coaches love).

At a minimum, return to your strength Baselines! This is why at Resistance we are so big on testing. We need to know our athletes strength numbers when they are healthy and feeling good. This gives us a bench mark to hit at a minimum when returning athletes to sport. Obviously to really decrease the risk of re-injury, we are aiming to improve on baseline strength and return the athlete bigger and stronger than before.

Decrease asymmetrical imbalances - You may find after walking on crutches or with a limp for a period of time, that you are tighter one one side. You may find that you are stronger on the supporting leg or non injured arm. At Resistance, our goal is to get our athletes to a standard of 5% difference or less. This has been shown to significantly decrease the risk of re-injury.

Work the surrounding muscle - Ok, so let's take a sprained ankle as an example. Many athletes who can’t weight bare, will sit the gym out and hop around on one leg. This is a bad idea. Athletes who avoid training the capable muscle of the injured leg, will suffer strength deficits, increase their asymmetrical imbalance, decrease muscle tone and will need to work much harder to even out the difference! Muscle wastage is a huge determinate of re-injury. That muscle is there to take load off your joints and absorb force. If we lose that ability, force is transferred to the joints and injuries are found below or above the injured sight as other muscles try to compensate for the lack of muscle on the affected limb.

Injuries are not ideal, being constantly injured is heart breaking. There are preventative steps we can take to minimise re-injury rates but it requires patience, trust and commitment to the process. Working with an Allied Health Team and Strength coach will give you the perfect set of expertise to assist in your return to performance. At RSS our Rehab Hub Program entitles our athletes to a weekly session with a rehab therapist, plus unlimited supervision from our highly qualified sports science staff. It is the one stop shop that athletes need for returning to performance safely and effectively. Tailored to create an experience much like professional sporting organisations, any athlete looking to get back to playing sport can be confident in there return!


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