Illinois, we’re heading in the right direction! There are so many exciting moments to come as we seemingly turn a corner in this pandemic. That is, if we take up the charge of ensuring a thoughtful return to training.
Coaches across the state agree that the goal of the spring athletics experience in Illinois is to have a healthy, fun, productive season. With this in mind, we should take into consideration a thoughtful return to activity for those who have been mostly sedentary these past few months.
Coaches, please resist the temptation to make up for lost time by pushing too hard during these next few weeks.
A prevailing concern among strength coaches is that sport coaches will be so eager to make up for lost time (an understandable sentiment) that they will do too much too fast and with too much intensity. This will almost assuredly lead to injury.
The National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Association (CSCCA) released a joint statement in 2017 outlining precautions to be considered when returning from periods of inactivity. They warn of heat exhaustion, rhabdomyolysis, and cardiorespiratory failure. Although that sounds extreme, plans must be in place to avoid such concerns, and emergency plans must be in place to address them should they arise.
In other words, don’t train too hard too fast, and have an emergency plan in place.
We have plenty of reason to be wary here. The NFL saw unprecedented injury rates in non-contact injuries, specific to some of the scarier injuries like ACL and Achilles tendon ruptures. For more on recent injury concerns, check out this podcast with Dr. Time Hewett: https://soundcloud.com/user-641070382/dr-hewitt-podcast-episode-1
Even if training does not result in those slightly terrifying outcomes, the potential to pull a muscle or incur some lower-level injury is very real. That might not seem like the end of the world, but there would be few things more demoralizing than an athlete finally finding his or her way back to campus, relieved to be back together with their teammates, only to find themselves in the training room on day one.
In order to follow the NSCA’s 50,30,20,10 protocol, we have the perfect amount of time left before many of the sports seasons begin. If we operate thoughtfully, we can progress our athletes back to full exertion by late February/early March.