Starting The AFL Preseason Right

It’s that time of year! AFL (Aussie Rules Football) will be gearing back up over the next few months. At the time of writing this it’s January 2019 and most teams will be starting or resuming their preseason.

Therefore, it’s important to consider everything you should be doing to best prepare yourself for the season so that you can give yourself the best chance to remain injury free and be ready for Round One.

As a Podiatrist, I commonly see players who struggle with a number of injuries in the preseason.

Commonly these are:

  • Shin Splints
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Calf strains
  • Hamstring Strains
  • Calcaneal Apophysitis (Sever’s Disease, Children)

These injuries are generally a result of overuse. When I say overuse, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re running a marathon everyday, but overusing the tissue/body part compared to what it is used to. As football is a winter sport there is a lull in activity around summertime. Many of us go on trips, some of us take it easy to let our bodies recover and others are busy with family and friends over the festive time of year. Whilst this is great for us, it’s important to keep in mind that your body will change to meet the amount of activity (or lack thereof) that you’re participating in.

This is why many players will have niggles during the preseason.

Therefore, it is important that whatever training you put in place for the preseason is well thought out and has a gradual build up. For example, if your coach has put you on a running program make sure the increments across the week are small. A good rule of thumb is no more than a 10% increase in km’s from week to week. Likewise, if it’s the first training back, don’t punish your players with hard sprints. You can try cross training to build some fitness and reduce the load on your lower body. For example, swimming, rowing, cycling etc. This variation in training reduces your chances of an overuse injury.

Another thing to note is the condition of the grounds. During summer, training in footy boots means more shock that needs to be absorbed by the body compared to training in runners. Most clubs have been educated on this and overall awareness is much better. Whilst this is great, remember when it’s time to throw the boots on your body will not be used to them so slowly incorporate them by having one training a week in runners and one in boots before going full time in your boots. Likewise, make sure your boots aren’t completely worn out! As a child, one of my favourite things to do each year would be to go and buy my new footy boots before the season starts. Don’t overlook this is an adult – just because they “still fit”, they may not be in the best condition. Footy is many things: high impact, endurance based, wet/muddy grounds, so it’s important that you’re in a good boot – don’t be surprised if you’re due for a new pair.

New year, new habits! Make sure you’re foam rolling and stretching to prevent tight, sore calves which plague many football players. If you can get into the habit early you will thank yourself later.

Good luck for the 2019 season and enjoy your preseason training. As you know we’re more than happy to help here at Boost Health Collective so give us a buzz is you’d like any more personalised advice. Good luck and all the best!

Written by Mick Ceravolo, Podiatrist.

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