This is one of the biggest questions we get asked by sub-elite athletes. A lot of people view this part of the year as a time to rest for the next season. Injured players often see it as a time to rest so the injury or niggle can recover.
Why is this not ideal?
More often than not the reason an injury occurs is because of poor loading of the tissues causing pain. Resting may alleviate the pain because it is no longer being loaded, however once you begin to reintroduce the activity that aggravated the area initially the same pain often returns.
This brings us to the importance of an off-season/pre-season. The following key phases are where I like to focus my time.
1) Tailored Rest
Why is this different to normal rest? Because we will be specifically resting an aggravating activity while trying to load other areas to address any factors that could be contributing.
Say you have an issue that is aggravated by dynamic movements like sprinting or jumping that are key components of your sport. During the off-season we can remove those activities and focus on slow controlled strength work to build tolerance of the aggravated area.
For a hamstring issue this might be doing an RDL or a nordic curl as demonstrated below.
For a groin issue it might be lateral lunges or a Copenhagen as below.
For a knee issue maybe it’s bodyweight squats or box squats.
2) Progressive Loading
This is where we try to reintroduce some more challenging movements for the area in question. These might be variations of the dynamic movement that caused the irritation initially. However, in this phase we will introduce them in a controlled environment.
This might be ski jumps for groins. Moderate intensity repeat running efforts for hamstring issues. Single leg variations for squats. The list could go on but the key focus to remember is that we are gradually increasing the challenge for the area in question in a controlled environment.
3) Progressive return to play
If you’ve chosen to use your offseason to address steps 1 and 2 this will potentially coincide with the start of preseason for your sport. If you choose to use your preseason to address steps 1 and 2 it might coincide with the month before trials start.
Here we reintroduce match play scenarios. We take the control out of some of the movements and gradually work you back to the most challenging scenario possible for your injury in your sport.
By this stage you will have built a significantly higher tolerance to stress and strain of competitive sport. You will understand what forces your body needs to produce and how it needs to produce them. Finally, you will ideally have built a base of strength and movement quality that can see you through a full season and hopefully a deep finals run.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.comOr if you wished to be assessed by myself or one of our awesome physios - contact our friendly reception team on (08) 7226 9901!