Are you ready for next season??




Winter sport season is almost over, and some of you are now paying attention to those injuries that you may have been "band-aiding" to get through your last few games.

At Barossa Physiotherapy we encounter many sporting injuries, and you may have seen our previous post on how to appropriately recover from acute soft tissue injuries here.


Whilst you may be happy just to give the body a "rest", now is the perfect time to think about preventing injury next season, either over summer or next year.


Why?


Because injury management is ALWAYS worth talking about, and the hard work you put in during pre-season can make a difference to your sporting injury risk.


So, are there warm-up guidelines that can be used in training and before games to help prevent these injuries?


The answer is definitely YES!!


Why Are Warm-Up Routines So Important In Injury Prevention?


Most sports carry a natural risk of injury due to their dynamic requirements, such as pivoting and cutting at high speeds seen in football, netball, and soccer. Sport-specific warm-up programs have been developed across a multitude of sports to address the main areas believed to be major contributors to injuries.


Examples of these guidelines include the “Netball Knee Program” for netball, the “Footy First Program” for football, and “FIFA11+” for soccer. These encompass many areas of an appropriate warm-up – with examples of these being:




These address risk factors that increase the likelihood of injury through neuromuscular control training – which is a method of training your body to increase the quality and control of movements of your joints.


How Effective Are These Guidelines?


In a systematic review conducted in 2017, the FIFA11+ injury prevention program was found to reduce the risk of injury in soccer players (both male and female) by 30%.


the FIFA11+ injury prevention program was found to reduce the risk of injury in soccer players (both male and female) by 30%

Further stats are shown below:

  • Control group = 1,219 out of 3,037 sustained injuries (approx. 40%)

  • FIFA11+ = 779 out of 3,307 sustained injuries (approx. 24%)

In another study which implemented a similar neuromuscular control exercise program to “Footy First” amongst 1,564 adult male footballers (AFL), a 22% reduction in lower limb injuries was observed when compared to a control group.


Overall, this suggests that these guidelines are effective in reducing the risk of injury, however what exactly do they involve?


Examples of Guideline Exercises


Below are examples of each type of exercises that you may find in warm-up programs such as FIFA11+, Footy First Program, and the Netball KNEE program.


Running, Footwork, and Dynamic Stretching

Each of these guidelines begins with some running and footwork exercises, which assist with preparing the body for higher intensity movements. This can involve simple jogging, heel to bottoms, and quick side-to-side and forward-back movements. Following basic running and footwork, some dynamic stretches should be performed. Examples of these include lunges, leg swings, and hip rotations.


Strengthening of Muscles

Strengthening of muscles promotes a stable base for the body to move, with targeted muscles known to be protective of injury. Examples for each of these muscle groups are:


Quadriceps: Reverse lunges, Squats

Hamstrings: Hamstring lowers (Nordic hamstrings)

Gluteals: Bridges, Alternate leg raises in plank

Hips: Side-lying leg lifts (both bottom and top leg)

Core: Plank, Side plank


Balance

Improving balance and technique on take-off and landing assist with preventing potential leg injuries, including those to ankles and knees. Exercises can start off with static standing on one leg, progressing to jumping and landing on one leg, and then be focused to be more sport specific. For example, football or netball players making a small sprint to catch the ball and landing on one foot.


Agility

Agility exercises train the body’s ability to absorb and generate force when changing directions in sudden movements. Forward bounding, side-to-side shuffles, and quick forward-backward sprints are examples of exercise that train agility. Once again, these drills can be made more sport-specific through the introduction of a ball into the drill.


When should we do them?


Most of the programs are recommended to be commenced in the pre-season period, and each program has very clear recommendations on how often the exercises need to be done. The KNEE program, for example, recommends the program is incorporated into regular training sessions as well as some sessions/exercises completed individually in the athletes own time.


In summary, it is important to cover all of these bases during a warm-up to prepare your body appropriately for the demands of your sport. However, injuries can still happen and are a part of the game. If you do sustain an injury, make sure to follow RICER with a little P.E.A.C.E. and L.O.V.E. and book in for an appointment with us so we can help you return to sport as soon as possible!


Aden Hilliard (Final Year Physiotherapy Student)


PS: If you'd like to know more about implementing injury prevention programmes within your club, our physios would be happy to work with you prior to the start of your season. We have staff already trained to implement programs such as the KNEE program for netball and we familiar with many of the others.



References


Finch, Caroline F., Dara M. Twomey, Lauren V. Fortington, Tim L. A. Doyle, Bruce C. Elliott, Muhammad Akram, and David G. Lloyd. 2016. 'Preventing Australian football injuries with a targeted neuromuscular control exercise programme: comparative injury rates from a training intervention delivered in a clustered randomised controlled trial', Inj Prev, 22: 123-28.


Sadigursky, David, Juliana Almeida Braid, Diogo Neiva Lemos De Lira, Bruno Almeida Barreto Machado, Rogério Jamil Fernandes Carneiro, and Paulo Oliveira Colavolpe. 2017. 'The FIFA 11+ injury prevention program for soccer players: a systematic review', BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, 9: 18.