June 5th, 2020

Training Matters: Injuries are inevitable at all levels of sports

By Alex Graham on July 12, 2019.

It’s inevitable. At some point in every athlete’s career, and by athlete I mean anyone who participates in sport, you are going to get hurt.

Hopefully, it’s something minor. Maybe you have to rest for a few days and then get back to it. Maybe not. Maybe it’s serious, like season ending. Or off-season destroying. Then what?

Before I get into the details of what to do when you are injured, let me back this up a bit: Despite your best efforts, you can implore all the prehabilitation possible and still get hurt; it happens. That being said, you should be doing all the prehab possible.

Prehab looks like working on weaknesses. If you play a sport that is primarily front to back, start working side to side. If you are quad dominant, start working those hamstrings. Stretch, roll-out, focus on mobility. Ensure you warm-up and cool-down properly. Eat well. Hydrate. Sleep. There’s your crash course in prehab.

After all the preventative measures have been taken, you still get hurt. I’ve been there; it’s not fun. But, being upset and curling up on your couch binge watching Netflix isn’t going to make you feel better (well it might, but it doesn’t help). Injury is actually an opportunity.

First off, just because you are hurt, doesn’t mean you can’t train. If you are in your off-season, you can still work towards being better. Find a qualified coach, therapist or doctor to help find what is safe to do and start doing it. If you are in-season, the same goes. Maybe now is when you work on your shot or puck-handling if you have a lower-body injury. Find what you can do and do it!

Getting better and improving your sport isn’t the opportunity I was referring to, however. There is more. Being injured is the perfect time to increase your resilience, to make sure you don’t string together a series of injuries. Most times, unless trauma is involved, an injury is likely due to a compensation pattern. There was something in the way you move, or play, that has led to dysfunction, which eventually increases the risk of injury. For example, I have tight ankles. The result? I constantly have hip pain. So at times it may feel like I’ve hurt my hip, but the issue is my ankles.

Find out where you are dysfunctional (there are plenty of practitioners in Medicine Hat who can help you with this), and start fixing the way you move. The results will not only help improve your current injury, but will fortify you against further ones.

Injuries suck, but they happen. The only real loss when you are hurt is sitting around moping about it. Thank your body for slowing you down; you probably needed it. Then reward yourself by making yourself better. Don’t miss the opportunity.

Alex Graham, corrective exercise specialist, is a strength and conditioning coach with Alberta Sport Development Centre’s Performance Enhancement Team and can be reached via email at agraham@mhc.ab.ca.

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