Sports Performance Program

Sports Performance Program

With the stop and start nature of how COVID-19 have affected most sports this year, it is very likely we will see an increase in new injuries as growing bodies are subjected to the rigours of sport and activity. Malvern Physiotherapy Clinic is pleased to once again offer the Junior Sports Performance Program this year, running over the School Holidays from December until late January.

This program involves an individualised assessment to identify any muscle weakness, joint limitations or abnormal movement patterns that may increase your child’s risk of injury. This is especially relevant for children who have undergone recent growth spurts and/or participate in high training loads. By addressing these findings with targeted interventions, your child will reduce their injuries and improve performance.

Exercises in the classes will be tailored to your child’s sport (or sports) to help improve their performance. By making the exercises sports specific, it helps to build their co-ordination, skills and neural patterning, all resulting in enhanced function. The classes are an excellent way to receive the personalised guidance required, whilst also training with like-minded sportspeople in a fun and challenging environment. Classes are run by a qualified physiotherapist and have a maximum of 4 people per class.

The main components of these classes will be:

Body awareness

Co-ordination and body awareness is critical for executing skills and improving technique in each sport. It is also critical in achieving positions that avoid significant stresses and unwanted forces on the body. The more capable each athlete is at moving particular segments and parts of their body, the quicker they will be at learning skills and progressing. This improved body awareness, also helps an athlete recognise when things are no longer working as desired and when to stop rather than keeping pushing when fatigue is not allowing them to do a task correctly.

Balance and core control

Balance is repeatedly shown as an indicator of risk of injury (particularly to the lower limb). Elements of core control has also been shown to increase or reduce risk of upper limb issues such as shoulder injuries.

True core control is sometimes misunderstood and taught in a way that is not sustainable. When an uninjured body is working well and has an effective “core”, it does not need to exert excessive effort to perform the task. So there should never be a need for anyone to brace or excessively tighten their body for an effective “core”. If this is the only way they can function, they are probably over engaging to compensate for another area that is working too hard.

With skilled therapists, they will be able to identify if you need more muscle activity to give you an effective “core”, or whether you need to disengage muscles to achieve this. This is why individualised programs are critical rather than assuming one exercise is the fix for everyone’s body. More is not always better when it comes to core.

Running technique

For those competing in running based sports, the position of the foot when it lands and the placement of the foot relative to the body dictates what load is placed on the feet, legs, hips and back. Poor foot position or placement can sometimes be addressed with different shoes and orthotics, but can also be addressed by changing the patterns of running, allowing a greater range of shoes to be worn without issues.

However, as running changes are hard to implement and take lots of repetition and dedication, it is not always chosen to be the first fix for some issues. In saying that, changing this with a younger athlete is the best time to do it rather than trying to teach someone once these patterns are even more ingrained.

Sport relevant stretches

Stretches have had a bad wrap over the last 5-10 years. Essentially several pieces of research have come out suggesting that static stretches have NOT been shown to prevent injuries. This seems to be the case for the groups they have researched. However, there is definitely a need for sensible stretching for bodies that are growing and adapting to different stresses from sport. We see a number of specific conditions (including Sever’s and Oshgood Schlatter’s syndromes) that affect those who are growing. Depending on the presentation, stretching may be an integral part of keeping these issues under control and help prevent onset.

It is also rare to see young athletes achieve the desired result from most common stretches. This is easy to teach and a skill they can keep with them for life.

Strength and power

Strength is becoming more and more recognised as one of the greatest injury prevention indicators. So getting strong in the relevant areas is essential for all sports. Learning how to do strength exercises correctly, and strengthening at an appropriate level for the growth and development, is also something that should be individualised based on the assessment from a professional. Strength work is encouraged in a growing athlete, but should be appropriate for the individual based on their needs and current loads and stresses already placed on their body.

Once strength has been achieved, power is able to be trained to build up performance. This is not appropriate for everyone though and so is implemented on an individualised basis based on their assessment.

Sport-specific recovery

Entering a subsequent training session or game and still having tightness or fatigue from a previous session increases your risk of injury. Learning how to optimise recovery and alleviate problem areas (without the need for massage sessions five times per week), is critical for all athletes. The earlier this is learnt, the more the athlete will also recognise times where their body is not coping with the workload and flag this with a coach or parent and adjust before an injury occurs.

Please email or call us on 9078 8434 to register interest in these sports performance programs.

Published December 1, 2020


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