Regular physical activity is an essential part of living a healthy life and yet a sports injury can see you on the sideline (and in agony) for months.
Sports podiatrist and founder of A Step Ahead Foot + Ankle Care Dr Brenden Brown says there are several strategies you can take to help stay injury free during sports season.
“Grief associated with injury, particularly for children with pain related to Osgood–Schlatter and Sever’s Disease, could be greatly reduced with a few simple practices.
“We see many people significantly reduce the intensity of their discomfort and injury once they start implementing the following 4 hacks for staying injury free.”
Dr Brenden’s top tips for warding off injury
1. Focus on warming up. “WALK, before you run!”
Many kids arrive at their sports training session and their coach says, “Right, go for a run”. This is way too much sudden change for the muscles (this rings true for both adults and children).
Br Brenden advocates the ‘Two footy fields or eight netball courts’ approach…
- Start slowly walking around the outside of 2 footy fields, end-to-end or side-to-side. For court sports, this equates to approximately 8 laps of the court!
- As you walk further SLOWLY pick up the pace. “NEVER get to a run!”
- You will do 2 complete laps of the 2 fields or 8 laps of the courts.
- NOW you are ready to look at further warm up exercises and maybe that coach’s run!
2. Make sure you wear the right footwear for the activity you’re doing. Sounds simple, but the wrong footwear can result in serious damage.
“Choose the shoes that have been specifically designed for YOUR sport. This means wearing netball shoes for netball not cool minimalist runners with uber trendy logos worn by athletes from an entirely different sport!” says Dr Brenden.
3. Take a long-term approach. Yes, you can cram the night before a big exam but we all know it’s the long-term work you put in that really gets the results.
This means doing regular muscular work in order to build muscular strength for the activity you’re participating in. Doing regular muscle work over a long period of time is much more likely to stop you getting an injury, than warm ups alone.
“Don’t get me wrong; warm ups are important – but we know that to stay injury free, being strong in your activity is going to greatly reduce the likelihood of injury and so building muscular strength is key.
“For example, if you’re a netball player, glute strength is vital to reduce ankle sprains. Soccer and rugby players will benefit from working on their quad strength, while runners should focus on their sprint ability,” advises Dr Brenden.
4. Perform activity-specific warm ups and training. I often see netballers shooting hoops and running straight up and down the court in their warm-up and training sessions, but it’s far better to do side-to-side jumps, high jumps and lands, as well as cutting movements. This is much more specific to what they’ll likely to be doing on the court.
If you think about it, there are only two goal shooters on each team; if training involves the entire team standing around the netball hoop trying to shoot goals, everyone, apart from the two goal shooters, is wasting their time.
A Step Ahead Foot + Ankle Care is one of Sydney’s leading foot and ankle clinics. Principal podiatrist and founder of A Step Ahead Dr Brenden Brown (AKA Dr Foot) has been taking care of people’s feet for more than 20 years.
With a background in sports medicine and having served as a former president of the Australasian Podiatry Council, Brenden is a wealth of information when it comes to foot and ankle care.