As coaches, we see many soft tissue injuries, most commonly in our student athletes due to overuse and improper care. Soft tissue injury prevention techniques are vital during an athletes' season to decrease the risk of injury, increase mobility, increase circulation, decrease inflammation, and prevent reoccurring fatigue.
Professional athletes use numerous techniques to prevent soft tissue injuries because they have access to them. But what about our middle school or high school athlete? Since previous injury is the number one precursor to a soft tissue injury, how do we modify the student athlete's training ensure a healthy season? The answer is already developed into every SLHF athletes training program: functional movement and mobility drills.
After a soft tissue injury as occurred, the movement patterns of that athlete need to be realigned to ensure the injury does not reoccur. It's important to ensure proper sequence and correct timing, and as trainers we use corrective exercise to restore proper fascial movement.
Lunges are a great example of a corrective exercise (in the activation program) used to ensure proper movement patters. As a student performs a reverse lunge, the coach is first looking at the students ankle stability on the stationary leg and how the arch of the foot moves. Then the coach moves up the body to check how the knee moves: is it in proper alignment, cave inwards, etc.? How do the hips and back move? Is their an excessive forward lean? Does the low back hike up pulling the core out of alignment? Each coach watches their athlete then manipulates the athlete so corrective sequencing, timing, and alignment are taking place.
Student athletes that have trained in the offseason know and understand the way their bodies should move through numerous assessments with their trainer. When the regular season begins, it is vital that the mobility and stability exercises mastered in the offseason continue throughout the season the prevent soft tissue injury. It also serves as a communication tool when an athlete is trying to explain a sport-specific movement. Our coaches can ask which Activation movements are challenging and thus determine the potential cause of the impaired sport-specific movement.
So, athletes, what does all this mean for you? Keep doing your activations, shoulder letters, sun salutation letter A, and foam rolling even when you're in season. If something doesn't feel right, come see us in the gym so we can assess your movement patters and sequencing. We want you healthy, injury free, and ready to compete at your best ability.