As many of us get caught up in the 9-5 (or other versions of this) plus or minus children we need to choose where we place our time and attention in terms of recreation. Getting out and being active is fantastic but if the only thing you do is play 1 game of hockey or softball a week you may be doing yourself a disservice and risking injury. With any activity we take a certain risk by participating. Contact can happen, we can trip or go hard into the boards. Some things cannot be helped. What we can do is properly prepare our bodies for what we ask of it during, for example, the co-ed recreational soccer play-offs. We may tell ourselves when something feels “off” that we’ll only give 70% this game but then we find ourselves racing down the soccer field in a one-one one situation, cutting suddenly (a la Messi) and pulling our groin, or in beer league softball smashing the ball to the outfield fence and building up speed around the bases on our way to our first HOMERUN EVER and pulling our hamstring. When we properly prepare our bodies as well as listen to it when something “doesn’t feel right”, we decrease our chance of this type of injury.
Our bodies and tissues get stronger through progressive adaptation, meaning we continually build and recover. There are multiple things that can play into a muscle strain type of injury: overload of the muscle (it wasn’t strong enough), improper recovery / fatigue, improper warmup etc. If we only challenge our musculoskeletal system once per week, or on an occasional basis we don’t allow for it to adapt and get stronger and when we ask it to perform at maximal levels it is not ready for it, possibly leading to a strain type of injury. For our bodies to be ready for a specific task we need to train it; for speed, for direction changes, for explosive power etc. I’m not telling everyone to go out and do parachute sprints or agility ladders five times a week. What I am saying is that to avoid injury you need to prepare your body for what you will ask of it. In a way it is like perpetual spring training. Gradually build up and make sure to take time to recover (rest, stretch, foam rolling etc.) A Physio or even a good Personal Trainer can provide an individualized and graduated program for your needs. A Massage Therapist can also help aid in your recovery after sports and workouts. If you do injure yourself accessing Physiotherapy treatment early can be important to aid in your healing as well as preventing future re-injury. (more on this in another post).