Pre-season screening and injury prevention

Posted by SportsMed NQ, 14 January 2015

This time of year marks the beginning of training for many sports like Football (Soccer), Rugby League/Union, AFL, Hockey, Tennis, Netball, and Touch Football. Regardless of the level of sport, a pre-season screening can be a very useful tool in identifying any predisposition to injury which can help reduce any time spent on the sidelines. A typical pre-season screening should encompass both a medical screening and a physical screening component.

IMG_2142Medical screening of athletes is essential more so in the older athlete or those who have not partaken in any form of consistent physical activity.  A generalised medical screening can help to identify those at risk of complications from exercise.  Some examples of this could be and athlete with asthma, diabetes or high blood pressure.  Preventive guidelines and management strategies can be organised in consultation with a GP or sports medicine practitioner.

Physical screening is used to ascertain the current musculoskeletal condition of the athlete and should usually be performed early in the pre-season phase of training.  Screening can also involve the use of sport specific fitness testing to ascertain the athletes’ preparation for that particular sport. A physical assessment of the athlete allows your sport physiotherapist to obtain base data which can:

  • Highlight past and current injuries, which can result in specific exercise prescription for managing the condition and preventing further injury
  • Identify inter-player differences – direct conditioning training programs to be set for various levels of fitness
  • Monitor physical changes over time, which is particularly important in the growing athlete and athlete participating in high training load and/or multiple sports
  • Ensure effective physical conditioning – allowing for measurement, review and modifications to exercise training programs involving sport science and sport physiotherapy

A typical physical screening of athletes includes analysis of:screening #4

  • Posture
  • Gait assessment
  • Muscle length and joint flexibility
  • Neuromuscular assessment
  • Task-specific testing.

Even the junior team or recreational player who does not consider themself to be an ‘athlete’ can greatly benefit from a base-level screening from a sport physiotherapist on posture and muscle tightness/ weakness.

It is generally acknowledged that an athlete who is ‘balanced’ from left to right side, upper body to lower body and front to back should be able to perform at their potential.  Numerous sport studies have reported that shortened muscle groups and stiff joints may predispose muscles, tendons, ligaments and even bone tissue to stressful physical loads.  Over time inflammation may occur or the load could result in trauma and injury. A comprehensive screening will help assess your musculoskeletal systems ‘balance’ to target potential areas which may have predisposition to injury.IMG_1580

If you or your team is about to embark on rigorous pre-season training, or even if you are planning on starting a new form of sport or exercise a physical screening can save you from potential injury and the financial implications of managing this injury, as well as reduce or prevent time spent on the sidelines/ out of action. If you would like to book in for a musculoskeletal screening, or even if you would like to chat to a physiotherapist to see if a screening would be advisable feel free to call our clinic any time.

Written by Kyle Whebell, Physiotherapist – Northern Fury F.C

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