As athletes start returning to the training field, it’s essential to gradually build their strength and endurance back up and not just jump right into where their training level was before COVID hit. If not, there will be a high chance that injury will occur.
One of the highest risk areas for injury are the tendons. These include:
- Achilles Tendon
- Patellar Tendon
- Bicep Tendon
- Common Extensor Tendon
- Wrist Flexor Tendon
We saw a similar situation to what we are experiencing now back in 2011 when the NFL went into lockdown from March 11th to July 25th. During that time, athletes did not have regular access to healthcare providers and strength and conditioning coaches. This caused significant detraining to occur in these athletes.
When they were able to return to regular training, they only had 17 days to train before the start of preseason. During the first two weeks of training, we saw a staggering 12 tendon ruptures. Put that into perspective that between the 1997-2002 NFL seasons, there were only 31 tendon ruptures in total. Just based on that single situation, we can see how much of an impact not easing back into training can have on an athlete.
To avoid history repeating itself, it is vital to help your athletes return to their sport safely. Tendons, especially, need structured and gradual training to get them back to the strength and elasticity they were pre-lockdown.
These exercises should:
- Build tissue resilience
- Improve functional strength
- Gradually increase load-bearing on the tendons
By prioritizing gradual increase exercises, it will ensure your athletes’ risk of injury is far less than if they jumped right back to where they left off.
We break down these exercises and more in our Returning To Sports Safely guide. We recommend reading through it to learn important safety tips to ensure your athlete’s return is safe AND successful!