So most of us are half-way through the rugby season. Bodies are battered, bruised and slightly more bulky after the Christmas blow-out. Some of you have maintained an element of your training over the festive season, but I almost guarantee the rest of you (front rows I’m looking at you..) have enjoyed the rest and avoided most physical activity whilst embracing the all-you-can-eat-and-drink attitude for a couple of weeks. And why the hell not!
However rugby is back on the first weekend of 2019, and with probably only one or two training sessions to sweat out the goose fat, you are going to be at an increased risk of injury and/or illness if you don’t treat your body with respect in the build-up to and the rest period after each game. The lower down the leagues you play, the more at risk of injury you are due to a lack of specialist facilities and professionals to offer advice and services to ensure you are doing the right things at the right times to prevent or reduce risk of injuries. As a specialist physiotherapist with a love of playing amateur rugby in ‘Lancs/Cheshire Division One’, that’s where I aim to help!
Without boring you with the science, intense exercise and sporting activity causes high physiological and psychological stress, particularly muscle tissue damage and adverse effects on mood. This emphasises the importance of adequate rest to aid optimal recovery, regardless of whether you’re playing internationally or you’re plodding away in an amateur Cumbrian mud-bath for the next couple of months.
Most of us amateur folk will play on a Saturday, shower, get changed, eat and have a few pints, then wake up the next day like you’ve ‘been hit by a bus’, stiff, and guarding every move you make due to stiffness and tightness. Sound familiar? If not, you’re probably a winger (I joke).
Anyway, as part of your recovery you should be incorporating an element of low-intensity exercise into your rest period. This can be done in the evening on the same day as your match, or the following day. Certain blood-markers (leukocytes and neutrophils) increase in abundance when we exercise at any intensity, promoting a natural inflammatory process which contributes to muscle tissue healing. In addition, the gentle but frequent use of our muscular system promotes removal of the lactic acid build up which causes some of that muscle soreness in the first place. Not to mention the proven psychological benefits of carrying out low-intensity exercise post-match contributing to enhanced relaxation and decreased psychological stress.
Your recovery session doesn’t have to be time-consuming, but it must be worthwhile. Focus on quality and control of movement and DO NOT avoid the movements that you find most difficult (unless you’ve had a diagnosed serious injury preventing that movement).
Thanks for reading, and good luck with your season wherever you play!
Tom Gomulko (TG Training- Click HERE to visit Tom’s Facebook Page)