How to avoid pre-season injuries

As the hot Australian Summer comes to an end, from a Podiatrist’s perspective it can mean a few things… dry, cracked heels, back to school shoe fittings and the return to Australia’s great game, Aussie Rules Football!

Most footy clubs give their players some form of running plus strength and conditioning programs to do over summer and many players will put in the hard yards, but plenty don’t! Regardless, overuse injuries are prevalent during this pre-season phase due to the increase in training load.

As pre-season is well and truly underway, here are a few tips to stay fit and healthy throughout the season (as we all know injuries to key players can make or break a season)…

Get your boots sorted now.

If you’re a senior player you may be thinking, “my feet haven’t grown for years” or “My shoes aren’t that worn out, I just sit in the forward line and snag goals all day!”

This is not the way to think!! Yes, your feet haven’t grown for years, but your shoes have most likely stretched, worn through the minimal cushion in your boots and if you are using any type of tape to hold your boot together (trust me I’ve seen it before!), you need a new pair or maybe even two! Likewise, the game has evolved so much that I doubt that you’re actually sitting in the goal square, but are actually managing to clock the km’s moving up and down the ground.

Why should you get them sorted now?
It’s simple. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who hasn’t gotten some form of a blister in their new boots. Better to find out now rather than at the start of the season for the first few rounds! Likewise, depending on your new boots your body make take some time to adapt to how you move in them.

In an ideal world I would recommend having two pairs of footy boots once the season is in full swing. Traditionally, footy boots are zero drop and little to no cushion. Many players develop calf issues and heel pain throughout the season. In recent years, many brands have developed boots that have a midsole similar to a running shoe (the middle cushion part of your shoe.) This gives the shoe a slight lift taking emphasis off your calf/Achilles and preventing overuse injuries by changing the way you run slightly. So you’re left with a workhorse shoe (Cushioned, slightly heavier for training) and a game day shoe (light, emphasises a faster style of running). This also makes the shoes last longer.

Stretch and Strengthen.

There’s still a little bit of time for you to put in some work (if you haven’t been). Being more flexible in the ankle joint is known to reduce incidence in a number of different types of injuries. The same applies with strength. A stronger muscle is going to be able to perform more work than a weaker muscle, therefore, decreasing your risk of injury again. A simple calf stretch 3×30 seconds a day will suffice for most people. Get the trainer to massage any tight areas as well.

Get your niggles out of the way early!

If you have any lingering niggles or pain, it’s best to get them sorted sooner rather than later. These days, most coaches are a lot more understanding when it comes to injury prevention and management. They’d much rather have you ready by a bit later if it means you aren’t going to be in and out of the side during the season. So depending on your issue consult your local health practitioner and get it sorted asap.

Good luck for the 2018 season!

I wish you an injury free and successful season!

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