Incorporating a solid strength training routine is something that athletes, coaches, and those living an active lifestyle on their own have incorporated for decades. The benefits go well beyond just a simple increase in strength. Body conditioning routines assist in developing enhanced speed, agility, and muscle mass, among other benefits. So, how can we reduce sports injuries through body conditioning?
Strength training is an important element in building injury resistance. With training of any kind comes the risk of injury, regardless of your physical capabilities or the frequency of your workouts. Body conditioning is a major step in preventing an injury that may set you back.
A key rule of any workout routine is to listen to your body and not push yourself past your limits. Today, we will look at some of the top injury-prevention techniques for body conditioning routines and how they can help you prevent injury.
How Can Athletes Reduce Sports Injuries Through Body Conditioning?
Physical therapists commonly treat sports injuries and workout-related injuries. These common injuries impact men and women across all age groups. A proper conditioning program can help lessen the likelihood of injuries.
Proper body conditioning programs address multiple aspects of physical activity, including strength, endurance, flexibility, cardiovascular conditioning, balance, proprioception and agility. The program should emphasize training to prepare a person for their desired activity.
Common Causes of Sports Injuries
Many people need to prepare to engage in various physical activities. For some, it’s the challenge of shifting from non-activity to activity. Modern technology has changed our working environments as well as our home life. Many people live sedentary lives. Transitioning to a physical activity requires preparation to help reduce injuries.
Physically demanding jobs may still not prepare us for sports activities. A person may work long, hard hours but must still be properly prepared for a sporting event. The heavy lifting does not correspond to the physical activity of running required for sports like basketball and soccer. Even though some muscles are conditioned, other body parts may be highly susceptible to sports injuries.
Factors That Increase Your Risk of Sports Injuries
Research offers us helpful clues about the cause of sports injuries. Two factors outweigh the rest regarding predicting a sports injury. They are:
Excessive training with little to no recovery days. Recovery days reduce injury rates by allowing muscles and connective tissues to repair between training sessions.
Primary Types of Sports Injuries
Having a history of injury. Previous injuries to a joint or muscle tend to develop into chronic problem areas for numerous athletes. It is extremely crucial to warm up and stretch previously injured parts.
A general body conditioning program can help us reduce the likelihood of incurring sports- and workout-related injuries. Physical therapists treat two primary types of injuries daily: traumatic and overuse.
Traumatic injuries occur instantly during an event, causing fractures, sprains, strains, contusions, and dislocations. Not all these traumatic injuries can be avoided, but physical traumas are likely reduced if the body is well-conditioned.
For instance, the person might be able to avoid them by moving more quickly or being strong enough to handle the abnormal stress and strain placed on a certain body part during the event that produced the injury.
Overuse injuries include stress fractures, bursitis, tendinitis, and other joint-related conditions. Many causes can be correlated to overuse injuries. Still, some of the most common causes include excessive training, improper training volume and activity, progressing too quickly, and performing the same activity repetitively.
Sometimes, a person’s anatomy might predispose them to certain conditions. Overuse injuries happen over a prolonged period. The symptoms usually begin as a “nagging” condition and progress to a more painful, limiting condition.
Conditioning to Help Reduce Sports Injuries
If you’re considering trying out a new sport or exercise routine, it’s a good idea to talk to a physical therapist. They can create a detailed and suitable training plan for you. Since these therapists are experts in treating musculoskeletal issues, they know the possible dangers of different sports. They can personalize a program that suits your requirements by discussing your chosen sport in advance.
Here are some guidelines for a well-rounded general conditioning program:
Carry out these movements using resistance, like your body weight, elastic bands, weights you can hold, or workout machines. Start with just one set of 15 reps, and gradually work your way up to doing three sets of 15 reps. The aim is to increase the resistance as much as possible but remember, you should never feel any discomfort in your joints (although your muscles might start to feel a “burn” as they get tired).
The goal is to maintain proper form on all 15 repetitions while struggling on the last 2 or 3 repetitions. This means you use approximately 70% of your maximum lifting weight, the desired amount for the general conditioning program.
Muscular endurance means your muscles can work hard without getting tired. To develop muscular endurance, lift a lighter weight (approximately 60% of your maximum) and perform 3-5 sets of 15-20 repetitions. The muscle will “burn” when it fatigues, but you should be able to complete all the repetitions.
Dynamic stretching should be performed before the activity. Warm up by performing movements similar to those in the event/activity you will participate in. The motions are slow and methodical, but a stretch should be felt as the body part is moved through the range of motion. Static stretching can be performed following the activity.
These stretches are more effective when the body part is “warm,” the technique involves stretching a particular muscle to a length that produces mild discomfort. This position should be held for 20-30 seconds and repeated several times.
The cardiovascular system transports oxygenated blood away from the heart to all body parts and returns “used” blood with heavy CO2 concentrations that need “cleansed” in the lungs. The lungs “re-oxygenate” the blood, and the heart recirculates it throughout the body. If this system is well conditioned, the athlete can perform at a higher intensity and longer.
Cardiovascular conditioning can be very specific, but the general guidelines are performing cardiovascular exercise (e.g., accelerated walking, jogging, running, biking, other machines, and swimming) 4-5 times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes. The pace should maintain your heart rate at approximately 60 – 70 % of your maximum heart rate. (An approximate way to calculate your max Heart rate is taking 220 – your age. Multiply this number by .60 or .70 to get the target heart rate for your exercise session.)
Balance and Proprioception
This aspect combines strength and neuromuscular activity. Balance drills will enhance the reflexive activity of a muscle. These drills are performed on unstable surfaces and are designed to develop the body and prepare it for unsuspected motions or movements. When the body is unprepared and the muscles cannot respond reflexively, an injury-provoking event (abnormal and excessive force) is more likely to cause harm to the joint.
Controlling the body in various planes of motion and changing directions quickly in a controlled manner. Exercises such as shuttle runs, carioca, rope ladder drills, jumping rope, and quickly changing directions in response to a stimulus are ways to develop more agility.
Physical therapists can assist athletes of all ages and skill levels to reduce the likelihood of injury and help improve performance. Remember this saying, “Get in shape to play the game; do not play the game to get in shape.” The body can be prepared to participate in athletic events, but it takes effort on the patient’s part to perform the conditioning program consistently.
Are you looking for a dependable physical therapist who can help you reduce sports injuries through body conditioning? Please reach out to us today!