Return To Sport - High Days And Low Days, Not Rest Days!
Several medical experts feel that there will be a spike in injuries in the coming weeks as thousands of club players get ready for their GAA championships after an extended spell of training in isolation. There has already been a spike in injuries across the country with Santry Sports Clinic reporting an increase in sports related surgeries.
Unfortunately, with the jam packed GAA schedule injuries are inevitable but there are things you can do to reduce the risk while still maximising performance.
1. Choose your high days correctly
What does a high day mean? Your high day is where you train/play at maximum intensity. Your weekly training schedule should be built around this. Your target should be to have your high day as your team training and match days. To maximise performance you need to train/play at maximum intensity. However, this also puts the most strain on the body – both your muscular and nervous system. It is important to allow these systems to recover. Therefore, you should try to avoid training at maximum intensity two days in a row. You should also only train at maximum intensity when feeling 100%. If you wake up the morning of training/match day and are not feeling 100%, that is your body telling you it needs more time to recover and you should adopt a low training day.
2. Choose your low days correctly
What does a low day mean? Your low day is where you train at a lower intensity than maximum. As mentioned above if you are not feeling 100% you should not train at 100% and choose a low day. It is not a rest day. Examples include, light team training sessions, gym sessions with reduced load (say 50% max rep) and sets, cross training session (Bike/Swim), low impact exercise (Pilates), rehab session from physio.
3. Perform active recovery – not complete rest
Contrary to common belief a complete rest day is not an effective way to recover quickly. Research has shown that performing an active recovery session is more effective than a complete rest day. This can include many of the things mentioned above such as a low intensity work out, pilates or mobility session, light bike or pool session, sports massage or physiotherapy, cryotherapy or compression garment session.
4. Respect old injuries
If you have a history of injuries in your past, when training is ramped up and the strain on your body is increased, the likelihood is that this is the area that is going to give in first. Take a look back at your injury history and don’t neglect these areas. Make sure you are incorporating your old injury specific rehab into your gym sessions.
5. Strength training
Strength training has been shown to reduce the risk of sports injuries by up to 50%. This is huge. Make sure you are performing sports specific strength training and again if you have any old injuries incorporate specific strength training of those muscle groups into your session.