Just train more?
Back in 2000, I’d graduated uni with a BSc Sport Science and was running the stadium bar at Bedford Athletic Stadium while I figured out what I wanted to do with my life.
Standing behind the bar, you get to know your regulars, and one guy, Pete, was one of the coaches in the Athletic Club.
He was old school. He believed that if you wanted to get better at something, you should just train more – and having just graduated with a sport science degree, I thought differently.
Pete and I would have some really interesting debates about ways to improve, and actually, if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now.
I thought that I wanted to run a pub of my own like my Nanna’s family had done, but Pete said to me one day, during one of our debates, “you clearly care a lot about this subject, so what the hell are you doing stood behind the bar?” I knew he was right, so I quit the bar and moved back home to Leeds where I started work as a fitness instructor – anyway, I digress…
Where was I? Oh yeah, preventing injuries…
In an article by Tim Wigmore, celebrated cricket author for the fabulous website “Working With Parents in Sport”, the idea of informal play is introduced as a way to improve performance – and I couldn’t agree more (being 21 years wiser than my newly graduated self!)
Research in many areas of human development has shown the benefits of play (see the work of Brene Brown, Stuart Brown, Miguel Sicart or Todd Hargrove), but it is also a vital component of preventing injuries.
Because when we play with movement, we allow our bodies to move in many more ways than we would if we were trying to think about it. This keeps our joints open and capable of moving in all the ways they should…and that prevents the joint restrictions that lead to pain.
And yes, you can even do this with adults!
A movement game I like to play with groups is the children’s favourite – head, shoulder, knees and toes.
But we don’t just do it the usual way, we take that framework of movement and play with as many different ways of touching our heads (even overhead), shoulders, knees and toes.
And if the group is really onboard, you can ramp up the amount of play by including partners, a ball or even items of clothing!
The purpose of course, is to move the joints differently, but the very best way to do that is to NOT think about it!
Have a go – if nothing else, you’ll have a little giggle today.
If you like the idea of preventing injuries being fun, then I’d like to invite you to join our growing Facebook community of like-minded sports and fitness coaches over at smarttfolks.com, you’d be more than welcome.