Whether you play in a neighborhood league, you’re in school, or you participate in an individual sport like running, you probably have an off-season. And while it may be tempting to pursue a hard training schedule during that time, you’re risking injury if you do.
At Orthocenter, our experts treat people who have sports injuries, and often those injuries are due to overuse. By approaching your training schedule carefully, especially during your off-season, you may be able to avoid a painful injury that could take weeks or even months to heal properly.
Take a moment to check out some strategies that may help you plan your off-season training regimen.
Before we get to the off-season strategies, we should talk about what we mean by overuse injuries. Any kind of muscle or joint injury that you sustain due to repetitive trauma is considered an overuse injury.
Some common overuse injuries from sports include tennis elbow, which is actually tendonitis; shoulder injuries in baseball and softball pitchers; elbow, wrist, or shoulder injuries in golfers; or stress fractures in athletes in basketball, gymnastics, or track and field sports.
Often, overuse injuries develop when you suddenly start lengthening or intensifying training. For example, if you go from running five miles per week to 20 miles per week without a ramp-up period, you’re at risk for an overuse injury.
However, when it comes to off-season training, you’re more likely to sustain an overuse injury simply due to not giving your body a break. You want to maintain your physical condition, but you can do so while also giving yourself a chance to recover.
During your season, you’re probably following a grueling schedule for 2-3 months. When it ends, you need to recover. Take 2-3 weeks off from serious athletic training.
You don’t want to just sit on the sofa, of course, but choose lower-intensity activities like walking or lower-impact exercise like swimming or biking.
Once you’ve recovered and allowed your body some time to rest and repair, begin to focus on building strength. A good foundation of strength can help prevent injuries when you return to your regular training.
Along with strength, most athletes benefit from endurance training during the off-season. Focus on activities that are easy on your joints, but that still challenge your endurance.
As the beginning of your season gets closer, you want to start to include more sport-specific activities into your training.
For example, if you play soccer, you may want to begin incorporating high-intensity intervals (HIIT) into your schedule to help you get ready for the season. If you play basketball, consider incorporating plyometrics to increase your agility and ability to execute explosive movements.
If you’re not sure how to go about off-season training, or you suspect you’re at risk of an overuse injury, schedule an appointment with one of our sports medicine specialists in Red Bank, Morganville, or Holmdel, New Jersey, today.
We’re happy to evaluate your situation and offer training suggestions to help you stay in the game.