As the weather cools, the football, netball and hockey seasons are hotting up.
This often means people are running more than in the off season (when we’re holidaying at the beach, eating Xmas pudding etc).
And it also often means people are running faster than usual, cutting, weaving, running backwards the works!
To best prepare yourself (and/ or your children) there are some simple rules to follow.
1. Warm into it.
Ensure that your chosen sport isn’t a major shock to the system by, training slowly at first and allowing recovery days. Ie don’t expect to start off where you finished last year.
2. Get your Footwear right.
Training in sand shoes rather than boots while the grounds are still firm and there’s lots of running makes sense.
Make sure your shoes fit well and support you properly.
If your ankles pronate a lot (ie you have flat feet, with small or no arch) it is worth giving your footwear the “twist test”.
A supportive shoe (e.g.Asics, New Balance) will not twist much, thereby preventing excessive pronation of the ankle and reducing stress on your ankles, knees and hips.
Older sand shoes and different brands like Nike and Adidas will often twist more (offering less support).
Note: a twistier shoe is not an issue if you have good arches/ hind foot control.
For more information ask your Physio or Podiatrist which is the right footwear for you.
3. Warm Up
In the old days warming up for sport meant a slow lap of the oval followed by some static stretches sitting on the ground, whilst yawning and complaining about stuff. But that was then. Now we understand warming up is as much about waking up as getting warm.
That means we need to prepare our brains and our bodies for the movements to come.
Getting the heart rate up by running a lap is still a good start, but then we need to slowly start practicing the tasks we want to perform.
e.g. handballing, lifting knees up, jumping, hopping, pivoting, paddling balls along the ground, kicking, running faster, running backwards etc—you know the movements you will need for sport.
We start this DYNAMIC warm up slowly and then gradually build the speed.
By the end of the warm up you should have a light sweat going and be puffing slightly.
Good to go!
4. What about stretching???
Dynamic/ Ballistic stretching still has its place in the warm up regime, but static stretching for flexibility is best done after sport.
Research in the early 2000’s showed that static stretching before sport didn’t actually reduce injuries and if anything had the opposite effect!!
However, we still need good flexibility, so static stretching is best done after your training/ game as you cool down, or even at home after a hot shower.
What are the best stretches?
For running sports (especially for children growing quickly) it is most important to stretch the Calves, Hamstrings, Hip Flexors and Quadriceps muscles.