Have you ever wondered why you or your athlete have the same nagging injury return every time the season for your sport starts back up? Have you ever wondered why you aren’t performing better from season to season?
It is because you are not utilizing your off season effectively.
Most nagging injuries in athletics are some form of overuse injury. Overuse meaning that you are stressing tissues in your body beyond the level they can tolerate for a prolonged period of time, like a sports season. Pain with overuse injuries is due to lack of strength, being too stiff, or a combination of the two. Weakness and stiffness can cause your joints to move abnormally and put stress on tissues that are not designed to handle the stress.
At this point you are probably asking why the workouts you’re doing during your season are not correcting these problems?
For all of you rec leaguers out there, how much do you really workout? Be honest!
For athletes who have organized practices and workouts, the answer comes down to biology. The body is inherently lazy and does not want to do any more work than it has to and change is work. For the body to recognize the need to change, including growing larger muscles and increasing length of tissue, you have to stress the body’s tissues over a significant enough period of time to show it that the stress is not just a temporary thing and that it can’t get through without adapting. With sustained exercise the body will eventually give in and recognize that you are going to keep up the activity and so it must adapt to be more efficient at performing whatever you are doing.
The time period before the body recognizes the need to change and starts to grow and adapt is about 6 weeks. This is roughly the same length of time as most recreation league seasons and about half the season for high school athletes. Meaning, although you have learned how to coordinate your movements better and your skills at your chosen sport have improved, your muscles are just starting to grow in size and length when your season ends and you stop working out.
Instead of simply stopping your workouts when your season ends you need to continue challenging your body to stimulate it to change and grow. Your off season is the perfect time for you to cross train with activities that are not necessarily specific to your sport but still challenge your body, such as riding a bike, swimming, weightlifting, or body weight exercises. However, if you have had a nagging injury caused by a specific deficit, exercises to target and correct this need to be in your routine.
In summary, if you want to see improvement in muscular strength and length, if you want to fully resolve your nagging overuse injuries that return every season, you need to continue with your stretching and your strength building routines beyond your sports season. By doing this your body will recognize the need to change, grow, and adapt. By utilizing your offseason effectively you will start your next season stronger and more limber allowing you to perform better and not have those nagging overuse injuries return so easily.