Ester Burgess column: Helping prevent injuries

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 29, 2007

Q. As a soccer coach how can I help in injury prevention?

A. As a “retired” athlete myself I have had lots of injuries.

As any athlete, trainer and coach knows, when you are very active in a competitive setting, your chance of injury increases tremendously.

On the other hand, I know people, including myself, who got hurt stepping off a curb, tripping over something or doing a cartwheel — which is how I blew out a disk in my neck.

So with sports and exercise, your chance of injury can increase.

One of the reasons I had lots of injuries is that I did not do any weight training. With judo I was throwing people all the time – so I figured it was enough weightlifting. When you are doing a specific sport, certain muscles get used a lot. Therefore, muscle imbalance is a given when you “only” do the sport.

With soccer, knee injuries are most common. Of course, with all the running, quick turns and contact, your knees take a beating.

Another reason can be that the quads (quadriceps femoris, muscles in the front of upper leg) are overpowering the hams (biceps femoris, semitendinosus, semimembranosus hamstrings, back of upper leg). Quads are a lot stronger than the hamstrings.

Weight training is included in pretty much every sport’s training rituals. It helps the athlete get stronger and faster, increases stamina, prevents injuries, and promotes overall balance.

I am going to include a workout geared toward soccer players. It will be a good workout for any sport in which you run fast, move explosively and turn quickly. Here we go:

* Off season, do about three sets of 12 reps, rest time of about one minute in between sets and exercises. Preseason, two to three sets of 8-10 reps with 60 to 90 seconds of rest in between. In season, three sets of 8-10 reps, 30 seconds of rest in between.

* Abdominal exercises, 2-3 sets of 20-30 reps.

* Jog or cycle for 5 minutes followed by a general stretching routine (about 3 minutes)

* Lunges

* Dumbbell shoulder press

* Leg extensions

* Leg curls

* Bent-over rows

* Calf raises

* Neck exercises

Additional or replacement exercises

* Bench press

* Leg press

* Narrow grip bench press

* Incline bench press

* Side lateral raises

* Biceps curls

Advanced exercises

* Clean pull or snatch pull from knee or thigh level, 3 sets of 4-6 reps.

A circuit setting works well when you are working with your team or a group of athletes. Perform one set, then move to the next exercise. (Coaches can time the rest in between.) Go two to three times around.

Don’t forget to STRETCH at the end. Stretching is also an extremely important factor in injury prevention.

Contact Ester Burgess with health and fitness questions at 704-636-0111 or eburgess@rowanymca.com.

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