Preparing Your Body For The Upcoming Sports Season After A Long Hiatus

Preparing Your Body For The Upcoming Sports Season After A Long Hiatus

All athletes know how important it is to continuously train for their sport. However, normal training routines across the country have undoubtedly been put on hold in at least some aspect due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we continuously creep closer to some semblance of normality, it may be time to pick up your training once again. To do so safely and avoid injury, our team at New York Sports Medicine Institute can provide advice on how to prepare your body for the upcoming sports season after a long hiatus. If you’ve recovered or are recovering from a COVID-19 infection, the following tips should help you prepare yourself to return to sports.

Utilize A Training Plan

After taking time away from training, athletes must remember that their body’s level of physical output will not be what it was before the hiatus. It will take time and methodical training efforts to get back to form, meaning a training plan should be prepared. Sticking to a predetermined regimen will help get you back to previous athletic levels faster than if you begin to work out with no plan. Dr. Roth and our team can review what you have created to help ensure it will not lead to injury.

Set Attainable Goals

One of the most important aspects of your training plan will be setting goals to achieve. Doing so allows you to have something to continuously work towards, helping prevent any feelings of stagnation during your training. However, it’s important to set attainable goals. If you set goals that are too far out of reach, you can end up injuring yourself trying to attain them before your body is ready. Additionally, if you’re unable to achieve the goals that you set due to them being unrealistic, it can damage your motivation and hinder your training progress. 

Mix Up Your Training     

It’s easy to assume that after a long hiatus, your sole focus should be tailoring your training to the specific needs of your sport. While it is true that this should be done, it cannot be the only element when it comes to your workouts. Training specific parts of your body over and over again is a common way to suffer from overuse injuries. This situation can set your training back further than it already has been. To prevent this from happening, our team recommends incorporating each of the following types of training into your preparation:

  • Weight training.
  • Cardio training.
  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT).
  • Speed and agility training with emphasis on lateral movements. 
  • Yoga or other forms of flexibility training .

Training After COVID-19

If you contracted and then beat COVID-19, it’s still important to be cautious during your training. With so much still unknown regarding this virus, you mustn’t push yourself too hard until it has been clarified that you won’t suffer any unfortunate side effects from your training regimen. Below are examples of how you should return to your routine after beating COVID-19:

  • Do not exercise for at least two weeks after you’ve tested positive for COVID-19, even if you’re asymptomatic.
  • Have your heart and lungs checked by specialists to ensure lasting damage from the disease is not present.
  • Slowly return to physical activities under the observation of a medical team.
  • Wear a heart rate monitor when being physically active to gauge the intensity.
  • Take a gradual approach to increasing intensity to ensure safe return-to-play.

Injuries You’ll Avoid

Whether it being during the preparation for your season, or once it has already begun, injuries can take place at any time. Here at New York Sports Medicine Institute, we know how devastating this can be for an athlete. By following the previously mentioned advice, you’ll potentially be able to avoid some of the most common injuries our team treats, including some of the following:

  • Ligament sprains and tears: Muscles are a dynamic stabilizer for joints, creating stability in those areas during movement. Muscle fatigue from a lack of conditioning can create more stress on the ligaments making them more susceptible to small tears aka sprains. 
  • Muscle strains and tears: The SAID principle – Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands – underscores that muscles requires progressive overload to build strength. Without those stresses a muscle will weaken, or atrophy. A sudden return to high-velocity, anaerobic sports such as soccer, football, or baseball, that demand quick, explosive bursts puts an unconditioned athlete at risk of a muscle or tendon injury. Typically, the recovery time for a moderate muscle injury is 3-6 weeks.
  • Overuse injuries: Repetitive movements, such as throwing or swimming, place certain body parts, specifically the shoulder, in precarious positions at high joint rates of speed. Without the proper preparation, these movements could result in chronic inflammatory injuries, such tendinosis, bursitis, or impingement.
  • Joint problems: Cartilage, like the meniscus of the knee, is vital in joint health.  The more it breaks down, the greater the likelihood of internal knee pain and dysfunction. The stability of a joint plays a role in how much pressure the menisci of the knee must endure during activity. Therefore, it’s vital to have adequate muscle balance on opposite sides of the joints (i.e hamstrings and quadriceps of the knee). Cartilage restoration surgical options are numerous in today’s modern sports orthopedics industry.
  • Concussions: Overall fatigue, specifically in the neck area, and decreased reaction time have been a suspected culprit of increasing the chances of developing a concussion during sports. Therefore, maintaining proper conditioning relative to the demands of the sports or activity is vital in reducing this risk.  

Professional Athlete Examples

Since the return of professional sports to our country, many have never been happier to be able to watch their favorite teams once again. Since the reemergence of professional sports, players from various leagues have begun to suffer injuries in the early stages of their seasons. 

This simply reinforces the idea that no athlete, no matter your skill level or expertise, is safe from injury after returning to sports following a long hiatus. 

For example, Giancarlo Stanton of the New York Yankees recently suffered a Grade 1 hamstring injury against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees all-star slugger is expected to miss 3-4 weeks of participation.

In the NBA, Memphis Grizzlies Forward Jaren Jackson recently suffered a torn meniscus in the left knee, causing him to miss the remainder of the NBA restart. 

While there may be no correlation between these injuries and the COVID-19 pause on sports, the chances, however, are more likely that the extended rest period did cause a decrease in overall physical fitness levels for these athletes. Let this be a reminder to athletes of all ages that maintaining your fitness in the off/pre-season is extremely vital for personal and team success.

Contact Us At NYSMI

Even after following the advice that has been laid out, the unfortunate truth is that injuries can still take place. If you’ve taken a long hiatus from training, you may be at risk of suffering from one once you reduce training. Should this take place, our team will be able to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact our team today so you can take the steps needed to rehab your injury.