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Rec Softball Players Need to Train Like the Pros To Prevent Injuries
The summer intramural season has ended and for many it is a time of having some fun, re-living their days of athletic grandeur, and partaking in many after-game activities involving the recovery drink for many�beer. For some though, it means rehabbing the injuries that occurred during the season. Knowing each season that you aren�t getting any younger, what can you do to make sure a lot of those nagging injuries don�t occur for next season?
Since summer is usually the softball season, let�s talk about how to prepare for the next softball season. Here is how your normal individual gets ready for the season. All winter, you lie around doing nothing, except maybe putting on a few pounds. March rolls around and your team captain calls to see if you are ready for another great season. Getting excited, you go to the batting cage and hit the snot out of the ball for 10-20 swings until you get tired. Next day, your side is a little tender. Throw in a couple practices here or there and you�re ready.
First game rolls around, so you take every precaution to prevent injury by warming up properly. This entails running to the portable toilet and back, then sit there doing stretches while you shoot the breeze with your teammates. It is your turn to bat. You�ve taken two or three good warm-up swings and done the side bend twisty things to get your back ready. You smack the ball to third, oh shoot you mutter, and you run as hard as you can down the line. Then it happens. A sudden pain in your hamstring and just like that you have pulled a muscle. You�re stunned that this is happened, especially with all the preventive training you have done.
Okay, so I exaggerated a little bit here, but this is a typical scenario I see in the softball season each year. One game I saw three of our teammates pull their hamstring running to first. Even I did it and boy, it ticked me off. So next season, I came in prepared and this is what I did.
You have to understand that even though you aren�t a professional athlete, in some ways you do have to train like an athlete. Not because you�re going to get sponsored to play in your over 30 softball league. But, you need to prepare your body for the activity you are doing to prevent injuries and be able to still have fun. Pulling a muscle is a minor injury, but I�ve seen a lot worse. And for some people, if they get injured there is no income coming in for the family. Rather than live in a bubble all your life, let�s try to prevent a lot of those injuries that can be prevented.
So in your off-season, I would recommend working out with weights 2-3 times a week, with a total body routine. You especially want to include exercises that will target your obliques, abdominals, shoulder area, and hamstrings because those are the muscles that seem to get injured a lot. This will help keep those muscles strong in the off-season and not get weak due to inactivity.
Now here is the important part of the equation. You must find time 4-5 weeks prior to the season beginning, to implement a speed program. Basically, if you do nothing for 6 months, haven�t sprinted or anything, you are demanding that your body go from �0 to 60� and have absolutely no problem doing that. As we get older, that is a much greater demand for the body to accomplish, so you must start sprint work that can be done twice a week.
The first week you want to jog around for 5 minutes to get warmed up. Then do a couple active warm-up movements (i.e. jumping jacks, jumping rope, some high knee drills) for another 5 minutes. After this, you will do 7-10 sprints for 20-40 yards. Each sprint is a buildup. Basically, you start at half speed and by the end you are doing 75%-80%. Rest 45-60 seconds and do it again. You don�t want to do full speed this week. Here is how you will progress for the remaining weeks:
� Keep the jog and active warm-up the same each week
� The second week you want to build up to full speed
� The third week do build-ups for 5 sprints, then full speed sprints for 5
� The fourth and fifth week, I would do 2 or three build-ups in your active warm-up and then do all full speed sprints
I know that seems like a lot to ask, but this program eliminated any hamstrings problems I had the year before. Besides, if you want to have fun and not worry about any nagging injuries, this is what you should do or you�ll be gettting plenty of icepacks ready. This obviously won�t prevent the broken bones that could happen, but it will eliminate the minor stuff. You will be amazed about how much better you feel before, during, and after the games.
Copyright 2006 Adam Kessler
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