There is a small stretch in the evenings and the winter is almost fully fully past us. Ah spring time how I love you. If you are a sporting fanatic Spring would have to be your favorite season? It is the official start for a lot of sporting organisations seasons. The hard Winter training evenings are in the past, now we can look forward to the fruits of our labor in the season ahead.
Below are just some tips we thought you mind find useful for preparing both your body and mind for your sporting season ahead. Remember to take your recovery seriously after a game as it will keep you injury free and fresh for the next challenge.
Studies in the past have suggested that stretching has no effect on injury prevention in athletes (Fields et al 2010). It is our experience that a comprehensive, regular stretching routine, when maintained over a number of weeks and months, will help to improve flexibility and aid muscle recovery. We suggest performing 10-15mins of stretching (targeting all of the major muscle groups). This can be a mix of static stretching and functional dynamic stretching. In our view gymnasts are the best athletes in the world. Look at there speed, strength & flexibility, they are amazing athletes. They spend a good portion of there training sessions stretching to strengthen there muscle & tendons to make them more flexible.
The theory behind the protective effect of strength exercises requires further research. However a logical attitude to assume would suggest that by strengthening your muscles you are better preparing them to deal with the stresses and pressures of playing sport, therefore reducing the likelihood of these muscles becoming tight or damaged. We recommend training your muscles with a detailed focus on technique. It is not always true to say that lifting a heavier weight will have a more beneficial effect on your training. Instead of loading up with weights it is often better to challenge yourself by trying to improve your technique and control. Single leg exercises (often with body weight alone) are always relevant for any athlete and have a high degree of transferability. Your focus should always remain on keeping good alignment through your lower back, hip, knee and ankle. Training your body to maintain correct alignment through exercises like lunges, single leg squats and calf raises can help you to continue moving correctly. Pilates Classes are an excellent way of challenging spinal, upper limb and lower limb control. The focus of Pilates is to train the body to move correctly by using the appropriate muscle groups. During a class an athlete can learn to become more aware of the most efficient ways to use the body.
Sleep quality and duration play a big role in the body’s ability to recover after exercise. A study published in 2015 (Fullagar et al.) demonstrated that a reduction in sleep quality and quantity could result in changes to the autonomic nervous system. The changes seen in the body due to loss of sleep mimicked those present in athletes who have been over trained. Additionally, increases in inflammatory markers following sleep loss can lead to an under performing immune system. This links in with the results from a 2014 study by Hausswirth et al which found a correlation between sleep loss, increased illness and over training. It has also been shown that adolescent athletes who slept on average less than 8 hours per night were 1.7 times more likely to pick up an injury than those who slept for more than 8 hours (Milewski et al 2014)
Strategies such as goal setting, imagery, thought management, and emotional control can be learned through practical exercises that incorporate these elements into the athlete’s practice and daily routines. Athletes can then use these tools to develop their personal routines and plans for achieving mental readiness for training and competition. In the final stages of preparation for competition, major changes or adjustments to training, performance or personal routines should be minimized at this point. To be optimally prepared mentally, the key is to have a clear goal for the event, adhere to personal plans and preparation strategies, stay in the moment, and minimize the impact of distractions. Remaining positive and optimistic are both key elements of preparing mentally before an event.
In 2014 a study was published suggesting that foam rolling did not improve performance but that it did reduced the feeling of fatigue after a bout of exercise (Healey et al 2014 J. S+C Research). A small study performed by MacDonald et al. (2013) displayed that foam rolling could increase flexibility without having any effect on muscle strength and performance. The same authors (2014) found that Foam rolling reduced lower limb muscle soreness while also improving flexibility in the quads and hamstrings. These trials provide enough evidence to suggest that there are no negative effects to foam rolling and that it is certainly a worthwhile exercise if it potentially reduces fatigue and soreness. If foam rolling can help to reduce fatigue in the muscles, this can allow you to increase your training time and volume and so over time will enhance your performance. For video instructions on how to foam roll the major muscle groups of the lower limb visit our website CLICK HERE
Van Middelkoop et al ‘Risk factors for lower extremity injuries among male marathon runners’’. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, 2008. 2. Fields et al. ‘Prevention of Running Injuries’. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 2010. 3. Healey et al. ‘The Effects of Myofascial Release With Foam Rolling on Performance’. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2014. 4. MacDonald et al. ‘An Acute Bout of Self-Myofascial Release Increases Range of Motion Without a Subsequent Decrease in Muscle Activation or Force’. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2013. 5. MacDonald et al. ‘Foam Rolling as a Recovery Tool after an Intense Bout of Physical Activity’. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2014. 6. Fullagar et al. ‘Sleep and Athletic Performance: The Effects of Sleep Loss on Exercise Performance, and Physiological and Cognitive Responses to Exercise’. Sports Medicine, 2015. 7. Hausswirth et al . ‘Evidence of disturbed sleep and increased illness in overreached endurance athletes’. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2014. 8. Milewski et al. ‘Chronic Lack of Sleep is Associated With Increased Sports Injuries in Adolescent Athletes’. Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics, 2014. 9. http://blog.nasm.org/training-benefits/foam-rollingapplying-the-technique-of-self-myofascial-release/ 31/10/2015 13.30pm 10. http://www.victorsport.com/coach_detail_1182.html 31/10/2015 13.30pm 11. http://www.supstrength.com/ 31/10/2015 13.31pm