1: You lose “Match Fitness“
So what is match fitness exactly?
It essentially means the type of fitness that relates to your chosen sport. For example, a rugby player and a golf player would use very different energy systems.
After a season, your body has adapted to the stress you placed upon it throughout the year. If you are a netball player, you have trained the ability to land on one leg, and if you are a soccer player you have built up the cardiovascular endurance to roam the field.
With that being said, match fitness is lost easily. If you are not simulating your sport in some way during off season, you are likely to lose a lot of the gains you have earned.
This becomes an issue when you return to the regular season. If you are lacking your normal balance, strength and endurance you may have a greater chance of injury. To replicate rugby games you may do shuttle runs to imitate the stop-start nature of the game or if you play soccer you may practice kicking from all distances to keep your movement patterns engaged.
2: You Stop All Regular Exercise
For some of you, off season is a time to hang up the sports equipment completely and dust it off again when the next season begins. This, similar to the last mistake, is likely to cause your body stress when you begin training again.
Your joints, muscles and tendons become accustomed to a regular dose of exercise and you create a baseline level of ‘load tolerance’. This baseline will reduce markedly if you stop all forms of exercise.
When training restarts, you put yourself at great risk of muscle cramps, muscle tears and tendon injuries (think of achilles tendinopathy and plantar fascia pain).
We certainly recommend performing the same amount of activity during your off season as you do during the regular sports year. For example if your sports commitment is one hour of training and a one hour game per week, you should try your best to perform this same level of exercise in the off months.
If you are serious about reducing injuries you will actually train harder during your break period. This gives you a chance to build a higher level of ‘load tolerance’ so that when the season begins, your body can easily endure what you put it through. Many elite level sports teams use this approach, so you should consider it too.
3: You Put on Excess Weight
You can probably think of a time where you eased out of a routine, had a little too much to eat over the festive period and resultantly added multiple kilograms to your frame. This is appropriate if it was intentional and you are trying to add strength to your body, but if it wasn’t it may lead to injuries.
There was a study done in 2017 that stated for every 1kg lost off your bodyweight, 4kg of force can be taken away from the knee joint. (Messier, Davis et al 2017). Unfortunately if you go the other way and add a significant amount of weight your joints will take more load.
It is important to track your weight throughout sports season and in the off season so that you are aware of any fluctuating changes.
4: You Don’t Rehabilitate Lingering Injuries
In the weeks you don’t have set training and game times, you should make an effort to get on top of last seasons problems. You may identify that you are weak in a certain area, you may believe your muscles are not flexible or a health professional may recognise that you have poor balance after taking you through an array of tests.
With this information, you can then set a plan to address your areas of weakness. As physiotherapists, we understand that having symmetrical function is important to safe and high level performance.
What we measure on a preseason assessment:
– Limb strength using a force dynamometer
– Limb muscle symmetry
– Muscle flexibility
– Running and landing mechanics using slow motion video recording
– Power with a variety of jumping, hopping and strength tasks
(Health Direct, 2020)
To check how your body compares to others in your demographic book an appointment today.
Health Direct. (2021). Achilles Tendon Injuries. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/achilles-tendon
Rob Forsaith, 2020. Australia. Injury plague appears unavoidable in major AFL relaunch dilemma. https://www.foxsports.com.au/afl/afl-2020-season-relaunch-injury-rate-bundesliga-injuries-research-on-sports-injuries-afl-return-soft-tissue/news-story/b25adb46051b0dad55d03cc56143ac99
Messier, Sp. Gutekunst, D. Davis, C. Et al. 2017. Weight loss reduces knee-joint loads in overweight and obese older adults with knee osteoathritis