It has been a very different year in regard to local community sports and how/ if they are running due to COVID-19 restrictions. It is great to see some sports happening again and bringing with it many positive benefits for our physical, mental and over wellbeing. Although the preparation for this year’s winter sports has not ran as usual and as a result meant players physical fitness and condition may not be quite up to scratch.
When the game day and training demands are much higher than a player’s current physical capacity are not quite meeting up it can increase the likelihood of injury significantly. This can be due to pushing your body harder that it is capable of at that point of time, placing increased stress on each of your body systems.
Why is injury more likely?
It’s no secret that the first few games of any sporting season usually make you feel more fatigued than usual and this is largely due to the body not being accustomed to the high degree of sport specific demands that are placed on the body. Weather it is the high contact nature of football or the short sharp bursts of speed needed in hockey, the body takes a little while to re-adjust to sport when you first get back into it. The difference in regard to the 2020 sporting seasons is that as structured trainings during the pre-season have not been able to occur as much, your body has not had the time to prepare adequately.
If you are a player who relies heavily on building your fitness level during structured training sessions and complete little extra independently at home, you may have put yourself at a higher risk of injury due to a lack of preparation. For those not competing in elite level sport and not training regularly in the off season it is normal for declines in muscular strength, endurance and general conditioning to occur. This is then built up again over the off season, conditioning the body for competition intensity and loads. When this conditioning has not occurred the risk of injury increases as the body tries to complete more than it can handle. Depending on the sport and the specific movement patterns, different areas of the body are more susceptible to injury. For example, footballers are more likely to have a knee or lower limb muscle tear whereas netballers are more inclined to experience ankle and knee joint related issues.
Ways to help outside of game day?
So how can you help to prevent injuries and prepare yourself for sport?
How to help on game day?
I know we are all loving having sport back on in the community and we hope that you are too. Try implementing a few of these tips to help you stay in the game all season!
By Aleisha Michael
Accredited Exercise Physiologist
The Hamstring muscle group, often referred to as the “hammie” is often associated with sports injuries like muscle tears, BUT.. they could be causing a lot more than just that.
What make up the Hamstring?
The hamstring muscle group is not as strong as it’s quadricep counterpart, but they are pretty crucial in our ability to move. The group is made up of 3 individual muscles that sit under the back of your thigh, Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus and Biceps femoris. They all cross two joints, the hip and the knee meaning that they can produce hip extension by bringing the leg back behind you or knee flexion by bending the knee back.
How can Hamstring injuries occur?
In a normal functioning leg, every action in your quadricep muscles at the front of your leg causes an opposite reaction in the hamstrings at the back of your leg. These two muscles work very closely together to allow you to move both your hip and knee joints and stabilise the pelvis. While it is normal and expected for the quadriceps muscles to be stronger than the hamstrings it is important to have a correct balance of strength in both groups. When there is a strength imbalance between the two the hamstrings may be too weak to support the actions of the quadriceps. This imbalance can often be caused by sitting and running and when an imbalance does occur it can cause problems such as lower back pain and an increased risk of hamstring strains or tears to occur.
What can weak hamstring’s cause?
When the hamstring muscles are weak it causes additional load and stress to be placed on it’s surrounding muscle groups, as the hamstrings aren’t able to handle higher loads or intensities. This can result in overuse strains or injuries to occur in the gluteal muscles, the quadriceps and even the lower back.
What can tight hamstring’s cause?
Tight and inflexible hamstrings can often be a contributor to lower back pain. This can happen through tight and constantly contracted hamstrings putting additional stress on the hips and pelvis. This causes the pelvis to tilt back, which subsequentially places added tension and pressure onto the spine and vertebrae. When prolonged periods of tightness occur muscles spasms and strains in the lower back can begin to occur consistently.
Hamstring tightness can also cause patella-femoral pain syndrome which basically causes an increased strain between the kneecap and thigh bone.
How to prevent Hamstring injuries or tightness:
By Aleisha Michael
Accredited Exercise Physiologist
Stretching has been a hot topic in the health and fitness world for a few years now and one that everybody seems to have their own opinions on!
When should I stretch?
How long should I stretch for?
What types of stretching should I be doing?
We will discuss all these
questions and more!
What is stretching?
Stretching is the act of getting you out of the posture that you spend most of your time in
and moving joints through their full range. It involves placing parts of your body into a
position that with lengthen the muscles and surrounding fascia/ connective tissue. It can be
done before or after exercise but also throughout the day when in sustained postures, to
prevent muscle tightness, aches and pains and improve circulation.
What types of stretching should you be doing?
As a general rule of thumb there are two main types of stretching;
● Static stretching – this type of stretch is performed without movement meaning you
would get into the stretch position and hold that position for a given amount of
● Dynamic stretching – this type of stretch is performed with movement meaning you
use a swinging or bouncing movement to extend your range of motion and flexibility.
Depending on what you are trying to achieve from your stretching (eg. Warming up before
exercise or increasing muscle length) will determine which type of stretching to complete
When should you stretch?
It has long been believed that we should stretch for long periods of time before and after an
activity, but this isn’t necessarily true! It is crucial to warm-up your body prior to exercise
through dynamic movements. The aim of these movements before exercise is not to
improve your flexibility but to simply prime the muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons that
you are about to use.
In regard to trying to improve your flexibility and muscle length the most effective time to
conduct this type of static stretching is after exercise as the muscles are warm and pliable.
Another great time to stretch can be straight before bed as this is when our muscles and
soft tissues heal, meaning they are healing in an elongated or stretched position that was
achieved before going to sleep.
How long should your stretch for?
When completing static stretching a single stretch should be held for at least 30-60 seconds
and repeated two or three times on each side. This gives the muscle enough time to relax
and begin to lengthen. When performing dynamic stretches prior to exercise the duration ca
depend on a number of things including how tight you may be already, the temperature and
how long your exercise session is going to be. At a minimum, dynamic stretches should be
performed for 5-10 minutes before any exercise, but longer than this for higher intensity,
longer duration activities.
If you would like more assistance or guidance around stretching, get in touch with us!
By Aleisha Michael
Accredited Exercise Physiologist.