ON YOUR MARKS!
If you wish to maintain your ability to exercise, to continue your choice of sport or any activity that requires strength and some degree of fitness HEED THE WORDS OF THIS BLOG!! If you were an Olympian and you had suffered any injury that could curtail your future sporting career you would be removed from the front line. You would be heavily supervised by your doctor, coach and physiotherapist and a comprehensive rehabilitation programme would begin until you were ready AND ONLY THEN would you be returned to the front line.
Just because you are not a professional athlete with a string of olympic golds in your day job, doesn’t mean you don’t have the same physiology. YOU DO, really, and although you may not have a doctor, a coach and a physiotherapist on hand you can still take the principles of a professional athlete’s rehabilitation programme and apply it yourself.
I know some of you think you were born ready but I’m sorry to break it to you, that simply isn’t true….”Boo! Hiss!” they hollered.
Let’s get a few things out in the open. Even though:
i) your daily life is busy and active
ii) you are super fit and super strong
ii) you are young in mind and/or body you still have the same physiology as an Olympian. Therefore, to give yourself the best chance of getting back into full swing, with the smallest chance of re-injurying yourself you need to do what an Olympian would do.
So as a potential Olympian, this is what you should do:
You need to get into the mindset of rehabilitation, NOT training or ‘I’ll just get back to it I’ve rested long enough’ and NEVER THINK ‘I’ll just give it a go’. If you go back before you know you are ready, the chances are you will hurt yourself further still, only this time you are loading an already injured body part. As a result you are far more likely to delay recovery for longer and possibly permanently.
Once the pain has settled and all seems to be well with movements of everyday life, you need to look at the activity you want to return to in terms of what it requires of you. Whether it’s tennis or netball or running or going to the gym or digging or rugby or crown green bowls it doesn’t make any difference.
Think about the vast variety of movements and positions you are expecting of your body during an activity. If you write it down you will realise how long the list is. Bending, squatting, twisting, lunging, stepping or running backwards or sideways, reaching up, reaching down are the tip of the iceberg.
It maybe that running or walking are what you are aiming to get back to. You may think that “bending, squatting, twisting, lunging, stepping or running backwards or sideways, reaching up and reaching down” doesn’t apply to you. However, unless you run or walk where you NEVER EVER have to move around people, dodge puddles or slip in the mud, or jar yourself missing your footing with your arms in the air, then no this doesn’t apply to you.
You see my friends no one is exempt, not even me and believe me, I so want to be, just like you.
Unless you have practiced moving your bodily parts in the appropriate fashion you will not know whether you can do them repeatedly, pain free, whenever necessary, at speed or in a competitive environment even if that competitive environment is within yourself. It is because most people do not adequately prepare themselves that further injury ensues. I see it so often and that is why I have chosen to dedicate this entire blog to it, in the hope that I can save some of you out there, from doing just that.
Allow your body time to regain the specific strength and flexibility required of the activity you wish to resume. It isn’t just about the hurty bit being ready because you move your whole body all of the time regardless of the type of exercise you do. Pain compromises your whole body and by stopping an activity for a while reduces the degree of overall body strength and flexibility that you have.
Once you have your check list of physical jerks (as my grandmother would say) you steadily work your way through them. Any that are challenging because you feel weak or tight, practice until you don’t feel weak or tight PROVIDED YOU ARE PAIN FREE. If you can do part of the movement pain free but as you move further pain then rears its ugly head, you only move to the point just before the pain starts. As you become stronger you will move further.
Little and often through the day is better than working for 30 minutes at the end of the day.
Build up the effort, the speed and duration to the point where you have a good awareness of what you are capable of, in a controlled environment.
Where you are a member of a team and competitively charged adrenalin is the order of the day, this adds a whole different element to your rehabilitation. However, don’t forget you still have that inner Olympian trying to get out!
My best advice is to start working with your team initially in a non competitive atmosphere. DO NOT be pressured to return to play before you know you are ready (ie you have checked out all of the above and you feel capable and confident about your ability). Then PROGRESS back into “training mode”. Once you feel capable and confident about your fitness in training, THEN you are ready to consider a return to ‘all out’ play.
The time all this will take is heavily dependent on your injury, your overall health and your dedication to the cause.
Believe in the Olympian within; think strong and always be prepared. Keep those medals polished until next we meet…