Does Being Out of Shape affect Injury Rate?

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How is it already November?

It feels like August was 2 weeks ago.

Once November comes we start to get a lot of athletes coming back in to train. The regular seasons in soccer are over and it is tournament time. After that we expect to see a lot of returners back in the fold.

This is also the time of year where we get some unfortunate phone calls. A lot of athletes get hurt during the fall season. Very rarely is it someone who trained with us. The injury has already happened and now they are looking to address the situation.

The one factor that contributes to non contact sport injuries is fatigue.

sports injury

When an athlete is fatigued they cannot produce the same kind of force that they would fresh. The nervous system is also shot after a long game on the field.

When an athlete asks their body to do something, like run at a certain speed or change direction, fatigue makes it difficult to perform at the same level at the beginning of the game.

Being “out of shape” is a very broad term. I have actually written a post about how that term doesn’t actually mean anything before.

Athletes must be able to perform at just as high of a level at the end of the game as they did at the beginning.

This becomes even more broad when we discuss how athletes become fatigued at the end of the game. It really comes down to 3 things.

Technique

Running, skating, swinging, and shooting are all technique based skills. It does not matter what the sport is, athletes must have good technique.

Running is the easiest example. If an athlete does not know how to run well, then they are going to display a lack of speed and maybe look poorly conditioned.

We can work on their running technique to make them more efficient and therefore stop wasting their energy. This will make them appear to be in better shape because they will have more juice later in the game.

A lot of athletes waste a lot of time pumping their legs without going anywhere. If we can teach this athlete to drive their knees and push the ground away from them, they will not get as tired with the same running effort.

condo test

Some athletes may have great aerobic capacities but never get to display them because they are inefficient runners.

Conditioning level

On the other hand, some athletes just have a poor conditioning level. These are the athletes that probably do not spend enough time active and do a lot of sitting around.

Most kids, ages 12-14 have a great opportunity to develop aerobic capacity but this is also the same time where laziness sets in. Video games, TV, phones, and iPads have definitely helped destroy a lot of athletic ability in our kids.

The way to take advantage of this opportunity is to just keep the kids active. Get them moving and get them moving a lot. If they stay moving then their conditioning levels are not going to suffer.

Not to bastardize baseball, but it seems like some baseball players are planning to spend all winter on the couch and try to figure it out in April.

These kids need to get moving while also working on their running technique to remove poor conditioning from the equation in the sport season.

Strength

Finally, my favorite. I have to admit that I have been really excited lately with the calls I have been getting about training.

More parents are acknowledging and accepting that their athletes need to be strong. This is great news because it is essential that athletes train for strength.

Strong athletes are going to be able to do a few things:

  1. Run and change direction faster
  2. Slow down quickly and safely
  3. Move more efficiently in their game
  4. Shoot harder
  5. Get better body position
  6. Resist fatigue at the end of the game

The first three are going to positively affect conditioning levels. Fast athletes get to where they need to go quickly and with less energy than a slower athlete.

But #6 is the key point. Strong athletes are better prepared to handle fatigue. Earlier I had mentioned that fatigue at the end of the game can cause injury and poor performance.

Add some strength to the athlete and they are going to be better in the final minutes.

We are always quick to point to poor conditioning when it looks like an athlete is out of shape. That is not always the case. An inefficient or weak athlete will display signs of poor conditioning without it being the actual cause.