Physiotherapists are preparing for an influx of sporting related injuries now that Australian Coronavirus restrictions are allowing a return to elite and community sport to begin.
We are, however, urging caution with regards to that return to sport. Flatten the curve of injury will become a new focus for many of us as coaches, athletes and sports specialized physiotherapists.
We have seen in many instances that a shortened pre-season after an extended lay-off will result in a spike of injuries. In the NFL in 2011, after a shutout period, the athletes were allowed to return to the game with minimal preparation, which resulted in 10 Achilles tendon ruptures within two weeks of competition. This is WAY too high.
Recently, the Bundesliga in Germany (top-flight football/ soccer), returned after a three-week pre-season following their Covid-19 lockdown. The first round saw three times as many injuries reported as compared to the same round of a normal season. Furthermore – this number is double the usual injury rate for the first two rounds of a normal season, which is the only other time that competition ‘resumes’ in a normal setting.
So, we expect some injuries, but can we be smart about our preparation?
No pre-season should be shorter than six weeks. If the sport has not allowed for this time-frame in team training, consider your expectations for the early part of the competitive season.
If athletes have been highly active during the lockdown period, this may serve them well as individuals.
Do not have the same expected time-frame for a return to high level performance of all athletes, especially if they have not been able to remain highly active in the past month.
Consider the sport specific qualities that your athletes require, such as;
It will be important to consider these details and gradually introduce components over a minimum of 6 weeks for most sports.
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