With corona virus restrictions slowly easing, it seems we may get to participate in some sports this year! This is great for everyone, but mainly for us physio’s as everyone has had a lot of time off and won’t be fully prepared for the season. Luckily, a lot of the more popular sports played in Australia have injury prevention programs, which is perfect to perform at home while waiting for corona virus restrictions to cease.
Just like in the title, its education and exercises to minimise or prevent the risk of injury when participating or going back to a particular sport. There are some great programs out there for each sport such as :
- Soccer has the 11+ and 11+ kids,
- netball has the netball knee program,
- AFL has AFL prep to play and Footy First Program,
- rugby union has smart rugby.
So, depending on the sport you play, you can easily find these programs on google. Now each of them has slightly different exercises, but are all working on the concept of improving general strength and control to minimise injuries.
So, I wanted to make something that shows different exercises for warm up, strength, agility and control that most athletes could do, independent of your sport.
Your warm up should include gentle running and dynamic stretches to prepare your body for exercise. Jogging, side to side running, grapevine (carioca), butt flicks, leg swings and fast feet movements are just a few examples and are shown in the video below. Do 30-60 seconds of each exercise before starting training.
With any exercise, it’s important to ensure you have proper technique; but I believe strength and control training it’s imperative. The idea of an injury prevention program is to improve lower limb control to minimise injury, and if we perform the exercises with incorrect technique it be relatively useless.
I have put strength and control in separate brackets but I believe they both help each other. For good single leg control, you do need a general strength background to maintain correct technique.
Strength repetitions and sets can vary depending on the exercise, but generally 10-15 repetitions (or 30 seconds) of 3-4 sets is recommended.
I have used my ‘guinea pig’ (not literally) for some more examples below as well, with a few hints for technique listed after the video.
- Lunges, reverse lunges: ensure the front knee remains over the toes and doesn’t drop inwards, keep body upright throughout.
- Bridges: don’t let the back arch as you lift up.
- Push ups, plank and side plank: keep back in a flat position (not arched).
This image shows exactly what we are looking for when running, jumping or performing single leg activities. We want the knee to remain over the toes and the hips to remain even. If we do not control the knee and let it drift inwards, we risk damaging structures in the knee and not being able to participate in the rest of the season.
Similar repetitions and sets can be used for control, but mainly focusing on fatigue and stopping as soon as technique starts to fail. Again, my guinea pig was quite helpful and examples are in the video below, with explanations after.
- Jumps, rotation jumps and skiers: keep knees controlled over toes and not drifting in.
- Arabesque: keeping back flat, slowly bend forward through hips controlling the knee.
- Split squat and sit to stand: knees are controlled over toes.
For most team sports, you will need to be able to dodge to get around players, and that can often be a compromising position especially for our knees. To dodge correctly, we need to:
- Decelerate before you dodge,
- Take small steps, and
- Turn your body as your dodge so your knee is not in a twisted position.
This won’t just help to minimise injuries; it will also improve performance.
Straight running forward is a great place to start to focus on slowing your speed and taking small steps before you dodge. From there, you can practice slowing and dodging off the outside leg, and turning the body towards the direction you want to run in. The correct dodging technique is shown, which can be found in FootyFirst program manual. Another video is below for some exercises to target agility.
Fatigue is often a large part of lower limb control and must also be accounted for. General fitness such as running/cycling and the above exercises can be used to improve on endurance to ensure as you fatigue your control is maintained.
Now these are just a general list of exercises to improve strength and lower limb control. Hopefully these give you a good idea of what to do when going back to playing sport, and may also be included in your preseason training. Be careful to choose exercises at a level you can control. If you are unsure, or noticing your control isn’t as good as it should be, feel free to call the clinic on 3351 5639 to book an assessment with one of our physiotherapists.
Thanks for reading,
P.S you may notice a lot of these are netball related drills, that’s just because it’s the best sport out there 🙂