Strength-training-for-sport

With summer around the corner, it won’t be long until you can rejoin your teammates and fill your days with cricket, soccer, tennis and all your favourite summer sports. As a result, we’ve been fielding plenty of questions about the most effective ways to improve sports performance, and do so fast

Our answer is an easy one. It’s tried, tested, and undisputedly proven to have a significant effect on performance, injury prevention and more: it’s strength training. If you’re looking for ways to get a competitive edge this summer, or just feel your best as you play or workout, strength training is for you. Our physios have shared how and why strength training is your #1 key to unlocking optimal sports performance while helping you prevent injuries.

What Is Strength Training?

Strength training (often referred to as weight training or resistance training) uses the resistance to the contraction of your muscles to help build your strength, endurance and muscle size. Occasionally, we still hear a misguided presumed connection between the term strength training and the image of bulky bodybuilders that make it seem far out of reach for many, but thankfully this perception is quickly changing. Strength training can, and should, be performed by people of all levels of sport, size, age and fitness goals. If your goal is to stay active and pain-free, then some form of strength training should be part of your exercise routine.

Strength training is backed by a large, high-quality and comprehensive body of evidence, with studies referring to it as “medicine” for our bodies. This is because the benefits of strength training far exceed helping you grow stronger and preventing or reversing muscle loss. Strength training also results in:

  • Improving your bone mineral density – which can decline with age
  • Recharging your resting metabolism – with increases of around 7% to your resting metabolic rate observed in studies
  • Reducing your body fat – and most importantly the risks associated with excess body fat like cardiovascular disease and diabetes
  • Reversing the effects of inactivity as you age – older adults have been shown to display enhanced movement control, functional abilities, physical performance and walking speed after strength training
  • Helping resist type two diabetes – by counteracting age-associated declines in insulin sensitivity
  • Improving cardiovascular health – at least as much as aerobic endurance training, like going for a walk or jog
  • Reducing the symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, and depression while improving self-esteem and cognitive abilities in older adults
  • Reducing resting blood pressure and blood lipid (fat) profiles

Strength Training Unlocks Performance

While many are quick to critique their sports performance using phrases like ‘my reaction times aren’t fast enough’ or ‘I can’t run fast enough’, the real glass ceiling we see sportspeople hitting over and over is that they’re not strong enough. To perform at your best in any sport or form of exercise, you need to regularly be working on your relative, absolute and sports-specific strengths.

Without adequate strength, you can spend your training trying all the new drills and gameplay strategies without being able to execute them in an optimal way, or with a consistent, healthy or efficient technique. This is an easy rabbit hole for frustration, slower gains, and injury.

Studies have shown that even endurance athletes that add strength training to their program improved their performance in time trials, as well as their movement economy. Strength training doesn’t need to be an everyday activity, either. Even one strength training session per week has been shown to further improve a person’s reactive strength while maintaining their maximal strength. On the other hand, runners who omit strength training can experience a deterioration of their reactive strength by almost 8% during their racing season.

Strength Training Helps You Prevent Pain & Injuries

Strength training is highly regarded for helping to prevent injuries on and off the field, pitch or court, and is considered safe, effective and worthwhile for both adults and children – as long as the methods are age-appropriate and approved by health professionals like your physio or exercise physiologist. Strength training may also help speed up your recovery if injury does occur. Strength training works by:

  • Helping prevent overuse injuries. A primary cause for muscle-related injury is from overworking the muscles by continuously applying loads to them that exceed what they can safely handle, based on their current strength and flexibility. This can happen in sport from going too hard, too fast. Strength training can help ensure the musculoskeletal system can safely handle higher forces without injury.
  • Helping improve stability. Maintaining good muscle strength can improve your balance and stability, which can help prevent falls and other injuries.
  • Helping build stronger bones. By helping promote the increase of bone mineral density and improving bone strength with strength training, the risk of osteoporosis, stress fractures and other fractures are reduced.
  • Reducing muscle fatigue. When your muscles are tired, you’re more prone to technique errors. Stronger muscles can help you go for longer without fatigue, helping you maintain an optimal and efficient technique.

Start Your Season On The Best Foot

Whether you need to add strength training to your routine but you’re not sure where to start, or you have an injury that’s currently holding you back from training, our experienced physiotherapy team is here to help. We conduct comprehensive assessments to understand where your strengths lie, and which areas may need improvement. If you’re battling an ongoing injury, or have a niggle that has been there for years, we’ll work to help you get back to optimal function.

Book your appointment with one of our physiotherapy team members online at www.physioactive.com.au or give us a call on 3281 8876.

References

[1] https://journals.lww.com/acsm-csmr/fulltext/2012/07000/resistance_training_is_medicine__effects_of.13.aspx

[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24532151/

[3] https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/fulltext/2017/01000/the_effect_of_strength_training_on_performance.2.aspx

[4] https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/52/24/1557

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3483033/

[6] https://www.acsm.org/docs/default-source/files-for-resource-library/smb-resistance-training-and-injury-prevention.pdf

Menstrual related pain can quite often make it harder to engage in exercise or skip planned sessions. Menstrual associated symptoms such as abdominal cramps, increase in fatigue, bloating and reduced quality of sleep often causes a decrease in exercise or general movement during the time of menstruation. However recent research shows that engaging in appropriate exercise  can help manage common period discomforts(Demiralp and Kirmizal 2020).

The use of regular moderate intensity aerobic exercise has been found to reduce or prevent the occurrence of certain menstrual disorders (Dehnavi et al., 2018). This study found that aerobic exercise could be used as a preventive or therapeutic approach to control period pain and other menstrual disorders. Performing regular aerobic exercise through mental and physical relaxation and improving blood flow can help alleviate menstrual symptoms (Dehanvi et al., 2018).  

Finding the motivation can be hard during menstruation, so start with achievable exercise goals. During the first few days of your period, where there tends to be heavier bleeding and uncomfortable bloating, a focus on gentle movements and aerobic exercise can be affective. Exercise options including Yoga and Pilates can help to mange pain and alleviate these associated symptoms.

Try out these Yoga exercises to increase movement and reduce discomfort:

Childs Pose

Pizer et al., 2020

  • Find a comfortable surface and come to your hands and knees 
  • Spread your knees on the matt and keep your feet flat on the floor
  • Stretch your arms on the floor in front of you
  • Rest your head on the matt or floor in front of you and take 10 deep breaths

2. Cat/Cow Stretch

Cat Cow Stretch

Helson et al., 2009

  • Come to your hands and knees on the matt
  • Exhale and round your spine up towards the ceiling pulling your belly button up towards your spine
  • Inhale and allow your back to arch whilst looking up towards the ceiling
  • Take 10 deep breaths and repeat this process
Happy Baby

Helson et al., 2009

  • Lay on your back and with an exhale bring your knees towards your chest
  • Inhale grab the outside of your feet and open your knees wider than your hips
  • Bring your knees towards your armpits
  • Take 10 deep breaths and repeat this process

Menstruation and period associated disorders can affect everyone differently so if you would like more information, make an appointment with an Exercise Physiologist or Woman’s Health Physiotherapist. We can help you tailor an appropriate plan for managing your symptoms.

References

Dehnavi, Z. and Kamali, F., 2018. The Effect of aerobic exercise on primary dysmenorrhea: A clinical trial studyThe Effect of aerobic exercise on primary dysmenorrhea: A clinical trial study. Education and Health Promotion, 7(3), p.79.

Kirmizigil, B. and Demiralp, C., 2020. Effectiveness of functional exercises on pain and sleep quality in patients with primary dysmenorrhea: a randomized clinical trial. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 302(1), pp.153-163.

Knee rocks stretch - Tradie Health Month
Knees to chest stretch - Tradie Health Month
Glute stretch - Tradie Health Month

Suffering from a sore lower back?

You are not alone – about 80% of the population experiences a sore back at some point in their lives, regardless of their physical and psychological health. But don’t despair – most people recover within 4-6 weeks.[1]

Why am I experiencing low back pain?

Low back pain can affect us at any age but it most commonly occurs between the ages of 20 and 60 years. There are various factors that can contribute to a person experiencing low back pain including repetitive awkward lifting or a sudden trauma such as a fall. But there is strong evidence that non-physical factors, such as the presence of other co-morbidities (e.g., diabetes), not getting enough sleep, changes in mood, stress, smoking, can also result in a person experiencing back pain. Low back pain can be a scary experience, especially when it’s persistent and effects work performance, social responsibilities and family life.

Do I need physiotherapy to relieve my low back pain?

There are many different approaches that physios can take to help you manage low back pain – the approach taken will, amongst other things, depend on your individual presentation and your goals. But in the first instance, you might like to try these 4 gentle exercises as a starting point. If you are unable to perform any of these tips safely or easily, it’s a good sign that you will benefit from seeking advice from a physio.

If I have low back pain, should I rest?

There is good evidence that lying in bed and being still for long periods will prolong back pain symptoms. Although it can be challenging, movement is typically the best way to help you recover as fast as possible. Keep up with gentle activity and regular short walks – even if the walks are only around the house to start with.

Here are 4 gentle movement-based exercises you can try:

  • Knee rocks – Performed to help relieve pain. Try performing 10-15 each direction, ensuring you keep breathing comfortably and relax your tummy muscles.
  • Knees to chest – Performed to help relieve pain – i.e. try this movement and test to see whether it helps relieve your symptoms or improve your movement. Keep your tummy and back muscles relaxed whilst doing the exercise.
  • Glute stretch – Hold for 30 seconds on both legs
  • Avoid prolonged positions –  Aim to move at least every 20 minutes. For example, if your job involves sitting for long periods, try standing up every 20 minutes, walking around or even kneeling on something soft such as a cushion
Male osteopath doing a postural evaluation on a young female patient assessing the alignment of her vertebrae and spine in an alternative medicine and healthcare concept

Note: all of the above exercises are a guide only – if you’re unsure on how to do these correctly feel free to contact your physiotherapist.


We’re here to help

If you are finding your low back pain is not settling and/or you would like further advice on how best to manage your symptoms or prevent recurrence, get in touch with one of our physiotherapists. Our highly trained physiotherapists will work with you to help you understand what’s going on and help you address the factors contributing to your back pain. We can also make a plan to be proactive about your lower back with options such as weights, Pilates, yoga and general body exercises to name a few.

References

[1] Stochkendahl MJ, Kjaer P, Hartvigsen J, Kongsted A, Aaboe J, Andersen M, et al. National clinical guidelines for non-surgical treatment of patients with recent onset low back pain or lumbar radiculopathy. European Spine Journal 2018 Jan;27(1):60-75. 2018.

What is hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy is largely exercise-based therapy performed in a heated pool under supervision of a
health professional.


How does it work?
The warmth and tactile sensation of the water are fantastic for relaxing muscles to soothe aches and
pains. The water itself also adds buoyancy – with your body submerged, your body weight, and
therefore load, can be supported by up to 90%. This allows for easier, less painful movement. Your
physiotherapist will be able to determine if you need the water to support you, to relieve pain or
increase flexibility, or to resist you, which can be used to increase strength.


Who will benefit from hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy has been shown to be effective in a range of conditions, including but not limited to:
Low back pain; rheumatoid arthritis; osteoarthritis; people who are at risk of falls; and people with
neurological conditions. It can also be very effective following orthopaedic surgery and aiding people
in returning to work and activities they enjoy.


How do I get into hydrotherapy?
You will first need an assessment with one of our physiotherapists, who along with your goals, will
determine suitability for hydrotherapy, making sure that it is safe for you and that there are no
contraindications or specific precautions. They will then see you in the pool and provide an
individualised program for you. They then will continue to supervise and progress your exercises as
appropriate.


Locations!
Physioactive utilises two pools in Ipswich. These two pools have different benefits depending on the
individual needs of the client, and as such suitability will be determined in the initial assessment.


1) JUST Leichhardt: 27 Toongarra Road, Leichhardt.
2) Peter McMahon’s swim factory: 1 Martin Street, Woodend.