OYSA Goal Lines

Warm Up ... Cool Down ?

By Mike Walden, www.sportsinjuryclinic.net

The following article offers several practical recommendations to reduce the likelihood of sports-related injuries:

Warm Up

Warming up is often overlooked but should be part of your injury-prevention routine. A good warm up will:

  • Increase the temperature of muscles - they work better at a temperature of 40 degrees C.
  • Increase blood flow and oxygen to muscles.
  • Increase the speed of nerve impulses, making you faster.
  • Increase range of motion at joints, reducing the risk of tearing muscles and ligaments.

Warm up will not only help avoid injury but will also improve performance. A warm up should consist of:

  • Gentle jog to circulate blood and oxygen supplying the muscles with more energy to work with.
  • Stretching to increase the range of motion at joints (see next Goal Lines issue).
  • Sport-specific exercises and drills.

The warm up should last between 15 and 30 minutes. Do not warm up too early. The benefits are lost after about 30 minutes of inactivity.

Cool Down

This is also often overlooked in favor of the couch, but can help avoid injuries and boost performance. The aim of the cool down is to:

  • Gradually lower heart rate.
  • Circulate blood and oxygen to muscles, restoring them to the condition they were in before exercise.
  • Remove waste products such as lactic acid.
  • Reduce the risk of muscle soreness.

The cool down should consist of a gentle jog followed by light stretching.

Sports Massage

Getting a regular sports massage can flush the muscles of waste products and release tight knots, lumps and bumps in muscles that, if left, may cause strains and tears. It is possible for a good sports massage therapist to identify potential trouble spots long before they become injuries. Editorís note: players can simply rub muscles to relieve pain and help muscles heal.

Equipment

Not having the proper equipment for playing can cause injury. The ideal soccer cleats should have:

  • A rigid heel counter
  • Good depth in the upper
  • A flexible forefoot
  • A wide sole, and be slightly curved in shape.

Shin pads are also an essential piece of kit. Look after your legs! Editorís Note: Be sure to always have your soccer players wear shin pads during practice.

Nutrition and Hydration

Proper nutrition is important. A bad diet will prevent you from recovering from training sessions, making you more prone to injury. A balanced diet is what you should aim for:

  • Carbohydrates are important for refueling muscles.
  • Protein rebuilds muscles.
  • If you become dehydrated, then less blood will flow through muscles. The muscles will be more prone to injury.
  • Vitamins and minerals are required for a number of reasons related to recovery.

Much of what is discussed above should be part of your sporting routine. A biomechanical analysis can help identify possible injury risks. Orthotic devices can help. Also, an assessment from a sports therapist or specialist can identify weak areas and possible injury risks. A course of exercises specific to your needs can give you the best chance of avoiding injury.

Fitness

This includes general conditioning, aerobic fitness and muscular strength. If you are in good condition, then you are less likely to incur injuries. Strong muscles are less likely to tear. A player that can keep going for the full 90 minutes (or appropriate youth game duration) is less likely to be late in a tackle. Good all-round conditioning will balance the body and help avoid necessary injuries. Soccer players can obtain stronger hip flexor muscles through repeated kicking on one side. This twists the pelvis and lower back, causing other problems including recurrent hamstring injuries.

Recovery

Not allowing your body to recover properly from training will eventually result in injury. Your body needs time to rebuild itself stronger before the next training session. Remember, you are not only training when you are training, you are training when you recover! Sleep is also an important part of your training. If you are not getting enough, get it sorted.

This article was provided by www.soccerspecific.com. Mike Walden graduated from Loughborough University, UK, with a degree in Physical Education, Sports Science and Physics. He then went on to gain a Diploma in Fitness Training and Sports Therapy at Premier Training in Wiltshire before spending four years in Private Practice in the Norwich area (UK) as a Sports Injury Therapist. Mike is the founder of sportsinjuryclinic.net,†the worlds premier sports injury website.


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