Four top tips to prevent injuries this football season

Football season has begun, and for many of us this is a time of both excitement and anticipation. However, as with any sport, it’s essential that players both professional and recreational ensure that they are minimising their risk of injury before, during and after the game. Dr Rahul Lakhera, our very own GP and MSK & Sports Performance Specialist, has shared his tips on how to effectively prepare your body for the football season.

Whether part of a five-a-side team or just looking to enjoy a kick about, Dr Lakhera is a former Assistant First Team and Academy Doctor at Leeds United FC, so he has extensive knowledge on keeping fit and healthy while enjoying the beautiful game. Dr Lakhera believes that making adaptations to your lifestyle will make the biggest impact on your performance in not only sports, but day-to-day life.

The four tips below are a great starting point for those wanting to take steps towards avoiding injuries and make the most of their game. Of course, not all injuries can be avoided, but you can make these lifestyle adjustments and be well on the way to getting the full potential out of your body.

Prioritise sleep!

Many of us underestimate how important sleep really is. There is no such thing as sleep being for the weak! Studies have suggested that getting a good amount of sleep is linked to reduced injuries, and therefore you should be getting around 7.5-8 hours of sleep each night. This allows us to reap the ultimate benefits from the 90-minute sleep cycles our bodies go through each night.

Not only does a good night’s sleep make you feel more alert, but it also helps regulate hormone control, boosts wellbeing and aids your physical and mental recovery post exercise. Alongside this, the hormones that control muscle growth and bone deposition, and in turn help our bones to strengthen, are released in higher amounts when you sleep.

Food for fuel

You are what you eat! Learning to effectively nourish your body will massively impact the way that you feel. What’s more, all your food choices will determine your body’s ability to exercise to your full potential and recover adequately.

It’s important to keep a healthy balance of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats in your diet alongside lots of vegetables. The more colours on your plate the better.

Watch out for workload spikes

Don’t overload yourself. Studies show that your risk of injury increased with exercise intensity spikes that you have not accounted for with previous training. As a general rule, you should not increase your workload by more than 20% otherwise this will increase your risk of injury. A 10-15% increase in intensity is about right, so make sure you do your pre-season sprint training and get the miles in those legs!

Strength work and prehab activation is key

A large proportion of injuries in football are contact related and sometimes you cannot avoid a collision. However, you can try to prevent problems by making sure that you’ve done your strength and mobility work mid-week. This can include things like dynamic stretching to improve your range of movement. Pre-game activation exercises are key, and there are some great resources online if you need a little guidance. It’s also a good habit to make sure your equipment is always in good condition! A great, free resource that is available online to give you some guidance on the types of warm-up exercises you can do to avoid injury is the Fifa 11+ manual.

To find out more about Dr Rahul’s services, give us a call on 01423 568 212! Your initial GP phone consultation is completely free.