With the first stuttering efforts of the sun many of us will be brushing the cobwebs off sports equipment such as tennis rackets, cricket bats and, for the fair weather types, even golf clubs.
Our practitioners advise that by all means get out and enjoy the summer sunshine, whether it’s playing sport, swimming in the pool or at the seaside, or cutting grass and weeding the garden, but taking a few simple precautions can help keep pain and injury at bay.
Your best bet is to prevent injury before it occurs. Start slowly. Don’t expect to be in the same playing condition as last year, even if you have been keeping up your fitness level. Muscles and joints respond in a different way to new activities. This may result in minor soreness while your body adjusts. If you push yourself too hard too soon, a minor discomfort can turn into something more serious.
Don’t forget to warm up. You might feel quite warm in the sunshine but, you still have to give your muscles a chance to go through the motions and get blood pumping to all the necessary areas. Gentle stretching before finishing your activity will also help those hard-working muscles retain and improve flexibility. Drink plenty of fluids!
Golfers are prone to back injury, mainly due to the stress placed on the spine during a club swing. A good swing, especially during the follow through, often pulls on the lumbar region.
Exercise regularly to strengthen the abdominal muscles and the long muscles on either side of the spine help prevent strain and injury to the golfer. Many golfers carry their own bags, often on only one shoulder. This can trigger back pain. Using a hand pull golf trolley or even adding a special strap helps to balance the bags weight and spreads the load across the entire back.
Tips for Cricketers
There are many common injuries connected to playing cricket. Hamstring tears for fielders or strains when stooping quickly & often to field the ball are regular problems; stretched ligaments may lead to a lack of stability for the wicket keeper if corrective exercises are not done; chronic back ache may be suffered by the batsman lucky enough to play a long innings and bowlers can experience conditions of overuse affecting the wrist, fingers, shoulders and elbows.
Before the game every team member should go through a series of gentle warm up exercises. Stretching at regular intervals during the course of the match is also highly recommended. It’s also a good idea to keep a couple of instant ice packs handy in your sports bag just in case!
Tips for Tennis Players
Researchers have looked at the patterns of muscle activity triggered during the course of a game of tennis, especially during the serve. The research confirmed that strengthening the abdominal and low back muscles protects against injury.
To prevent damage from over working the same parts of the body, a tennis specific exercise routine will relieve stressed areas and people who take part in back exercise classes can often keep injuries and pain in the lower back at bay. Stretching regularly and ensuring good flexibility is an absolute must for even the infrequent player. Ensure you stretch the whole body starting with your neck and working all the way down to your toes.
Your body will let you know if something is wrong. Don’t ignore the little aches and pains in the joints and muscles. If they don’t respond to home treatments and rest, seek advice from your osteopath.
Golden Rule: Get fit to play a sport DON’T play a sport to get fit!