Training tips during your sport’s offseason

Written by Joel Streed of the Mayo Clinic News Network on July 15, 2022

September 23, 2022

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When it comes to sports, sometimes too much of a great thing can be, well, too much — too much running, swinging, throwing, jumping. These repetitive motions can lead to overuse injuries, which may prevent you from participating for the rest of the season and limit rehabilitation. And they could even have long-term effects.

If you or your child participate in organized sports or focus on a sport individually, you may be at risk for an overuse injury.

Overuse injuries tend to affect muscles and joints and can be caused by:

Examples of overuse injuries for specific sports include:

Ideally, at the end of the season, athletes of any age or ability should take a break to give their bodies a chance to rest and heal to prevent overuse injuries. It’s also a good time to check with your health care professional to ensure that any aches, pains or reduced range of motion can be addressed.

If you’re the parent of a student-athlete, pay attention to signs from your child of a potential overuse injury, including:

If you notice these signs, make an appointment with your child’s health care professional.

3 ways to avoid overuse injury

Most overuse injuries are avoidable and can be prevented by:

  1. Using proper form and gear
    Whether you’re new to an activity or have been doing it for a long time, consider taking lessons. Using the correct technique is crucial to preventing overuse injuries. Also, make sure you wear proper shoes for the activity. Think about replacing your shoes for every 250 to 500 miles you walk or run — or at least twice a year if you exercise regularly.
  2. Pacing yourself
    Compressing your physical activity for the week into just a couple of days can lead to an overuse injury. Instead, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily. If you don’t have time for a full 30 minutes, you can break it down into smaller blocks throughout the day. Take time to warm up before physical activity and cool down afterward.
  3. Gradually increasing your activity level
    If you’re changing the intensity or duration of a physical activity, do it gradually. For example, during strength training, increase the weight by no more than 10% a week until you reach your new goal.

Shake up your training routine

Since overuse injuries typically are due to repetitive motions, it’s important to shake up your training routine during your sport’s offseason. An offseason training routine should focus on strength and conditioning to prevent injuries and enhance performance. So it may include aspects of speed, strength, agility and mechanics, depending on the sport.

Offseason training may be available for student-athletes through their school or private companies.

Consider incorporating cross-training into your offseason routine. Instead of focusing on one type of exercise, try a completely different activity.

Elements of cross-training include:

These activities can help prevent overuse by allowing your body to use different muscle groups and not overload any one particular group. And because they’re low-impact, they’re more friendly to your joints.

Before the new season for your sport starts, check back with your health care professional to be sure your body’s on track for achieving your fitness and performance goals.


Originally published on Mayo Clinic News Network.

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