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23. PREPPING FOR PLAY

PREPPING FOR PLAY

 Whether you are an adult gearing up for the fall or winter recreation leagues or a highly competitive high school athlete preparing for a shot at a state championship in your respective sport, training in the months prior to the start of a sports season is critical to your success.

 Neglecting off-season or pre-season training puts a tremendous amount of stress your body once practice or sports participation begins.  Most of the early season injuries seen both in the adult and youth athletic populations can be blamed on one thing – inadequate pre-season preparation.   In working with the local high school football team for the past 15 years I have witnessed this pretty much on a yearly basis.  The athlete who has put in the work and is prepared for the grind of daily doubles fares much better than the athlete who doesn’t!  The latter are athletes we often see in the clinic with preseason muscle strains, tendinitis and other overuse injuries.  Though not thought of as very serious injuries they none the less can be extremely painful and limit the athlete’s participation.  The same can be said of us “weekend-warrior” type athletes getting set to start the next coed volleyball or adult basketball league or getting ready for the next ski and snowboard season.  So what should a pre-season or off-season training program consist of?

 A key question to first ask is when does pre-season begin?  A general guideline is to allow for six to eight weeks of pre-season training to safely reach optimal in-season performance.  The ultimate goal is to gradually progress to peak performance levels while avoiding injury.  For all sports the initial focus should be on improving core stability and balance.  The next focus should then be on improving overall cardiovascular fitness and endurance including long duration - low intensity workouts.  Your routine can then include weight training or other strengthening measures that are specific to your sport.  Key variables for weight training include number of sets and reps per exercise, number and type of exercises, number of sessions per week and intensity of efforts.  These variables should be matched to the athlete’s sport and the specific physical demands each has on the athlete. 

While different sports and participant ages require different training approaches, a general guideline is to follow the 10 percent rule:  Increase your training program by no more than 10 percent a week.  This will allow the body to adequately rest and recover in preparation for your next workout. 

For more information on pre-season or off-season workout programs you can call on your exercise specialist at Baker Valley PT, 523-8888.  Good luck, train hard and stay healthy!

Written by Rob Bachman, PT

Published July 2012

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