How many times have you witnessed sportspeople either professional or amateur get injured have an extended period out of the game then come back to only hurt themselves again? For a lot of these people there is one common thing that is missing from there rehabilitation program and that is sports specific exercises. This blog will look to answer three major question people have on sport specific exercises. Why is it important? When should I be doing them? And how to do them?
First off let’s start with the why. Why should you do sports specific exercises?
I want you to think of it like starting a new job or coming back from having a long time off work. In this situation you have all these new tasks to learn or get reacquainted with. So, you go and practice doing them to try and get them ingrained in your memory so next time you are required to do the task you know how to do them. Returning to or beginning a sport is exactly the same. You need to practice particular tasks (skills) in order to be able to perform them the best you can. So, when rehabilitating back from an injury it is important to perform exercises that are similar to your sport so your body and brain can learn to perform that movement again. Therefore, when you come to game day and need to jump for that ball or step an opponent, your body has already practised that movement and can execute it with no issues.
The next important question is when should I do these sports specific exercises?
Common mistake people do is try and push their rehab too quickly and try out some sport-based movement and hurt themselves. Before you can start more sports specific exercises you need to first have recovered the majority of your pre-injury strength and have little to no pain. Having that strength back is important as it decreases your risk of re-injuring the muscle or joint and having little to no pain allows you to perform the exercises the best you can without having to pull back due to it hurting.
So, to answer the question of when I should do these, you are looking at the last stage of the rehabilitation program before you should perform these exercises.
This is the most open question of the three and that is due to how different many sports are to each other. You wouldn’t expect a swimmer to perform the same sport specific exercises as a rugby player, as the two sports require different things. When deciding on what exercises to do, think about what your sport requires. Is it a lot of jumping and landing like netball or basketball? Or does it require powerful movements like rugby? Whatever it is, your rehabilitation program should always aim to get you back to performing movements specific to your sport and doing them effectively before returning to sport. As always, if you are unsure consult your Exercise Physiologist to get a tailored program for your needs.