Injury prevention is the foundation of maintaining peak health and performance. Any sports season, with intense practices and competition, can put strain on an athlete’s body and may put them at risk for injuries. The offseason is an important opportunity for athletes to heal from injuries and prevent them next season. Here are some ideas how to maximize the offseason to come back stronger and ready to achieve next season.
Take Time to Rest and Heal
Allowing current injuries to heal is a critical step in taking advantage of the offseason. Rest, including sleep and taking a break from intense activity, allows the body to heal, which may prevent minor injuries from becoming chronic. Athletes might fear taking time off will lead to a loss of any gains they made during the season. However, rest does not mean no activity necessarily. Active rest, changing an athlete’s typical routine to reduce training intensity, during the off season can help prevent injuries during the season by allowing the body to recover while minimizing any loss of fitness.
Want to learn more about how sleep can improve performance? Learn more here.
Focus on Low Impact Workouts
During times of active rest, athletes sometimes focus on mobility and core work, however, athletes may also benefit from trying out low impact workouts. These are exercises that can be done in smooth motions and are easy on the joints. After the stress of a competitive season, low impact exercises may help the body bounce back while maintaining fitness levels. Ideas for low impact workouts can include the elliptical machine, swimming, and yoga. According to The Mayo Clinic, low impact exercises might be able to help prevent overuse injuries by increasing strength of different muscle groups without overworking any particular muscle group.
Get Back to Basic Movements
Low impact workouts and active rest can allow athletes to slow down and work on basic motions. Basic motions, such as squats, lunges, and rotations, are primary movements that many athletes use during competitions, and are easy to do improperly. When these base movements are compromised, they can put athletes at a risk for injury. Using the offseason to build a strong foundation of movement by correcting form during fundamental exercises. Working with an athletic trainer can help ensure that form and movements are correct can be beneficial. By improving basic movements during the offseason through exercise, athletes might be able to decrease the likelihood of injury from improper form.
Maintaining peak performance and staying injury free starts in the offseason. Take time to relax and heal, while laying a foundation of strength for next season. By using the offseason intentionally, you will help yourself be ready to stay in the game the entire season.