Your 4 week guide on how to plan your return to training after lockdown?
With the recent announcement that sports will be returning in the near future, it is important that we do not all rush straight onto the pitch without correctly preparing to do so. You may think that you are able to return to play and pick up where you left off but with the lack of sports for the past year and the increase in a more sedentary lifestyle, picking up an injury is very likely for those who go in ‘all guns blazing’.
Whether you are returning back to a Sunday league football team or simply starting back up with the local running club, some preparation is necessary. This will involve looking at your current fitness level and carefully planning how you can get back to being ‘sport fit’ in the most time efficient and effective way possible.
Looking at returning to football we are going to talk through what the next 4 weeks should look like for those wanting to get match fit.
Firstly we need to look at your current fitness level and the expected level you need for a full return to sport. Setting specific and realistic achievable goals each week will allow you to see the progress you are making each training session and will avoid experiencing tedium and lack of motivation.
Using football you could look at baseline testing for agility and your endurance, that could be muscular or cardio vascular.
One test for agility you could use is called the Illinois agility test.
Here you can see the layout of the test. You then time how long it takes you to get from start position to finish. This time would then be your ‘baseline’ to work on improving before the return to sport in 4 weeks.
Improving your Agility
Once you know your baseline time to complete the test, in order to decrease that time you need to work on your agility. To do this you need to work on improving balance, strength and mobility which are the components that make up agility. By focusing on the singular elements you are able to work on areas that are perhaps weaker than others and potentially hindering your improvement.
To improve balance you could look into the star balance exercise or single leg standing. Improving strength will involve looking at some squat variations, whether that is body weighted or weighted; and mobility can be improved by adding different stretches into your training programme, especially focusing on your legs.
Once you have your baseline fitness levels, specific to your sport you can then set your goals and begin working toward them in this first week of training.
Keep an eye out next week for information on what you should be doing during week 2 of your training for your return to sport.
If you are concerned about returning to sport then Beth our Sports Therapist, who also works alongside the England Ice Hockey National Training programme, works with young athletes to plan their return to sport and help minimise the risk of getting injured.