Preparation is key for Winter sport in 2021

My name’s Gabby and I’m a podiatrist at Hunter Podiatry Services. I’ve recently returned from a stint in Alice springs and have signed up to play AFL locally. As pre-season starts to get into action, practice matches are commencing and the first whistle nears, I felt it was important to remind us all the importance of injury prevention in sport. Prevention is the best cure!

Whether you took a year off sport with the virus, are getting back into the sport you love after having a few years off, starting fresh into a new code or you are a seasoned veteran, it’s important to take precautions and get any niggles you may have sorted so you can optimise your changes of play out the season injury and pain free (no matter what level of competition you’re at).

An important note: not completing a full season the last year is a huge predictor of injury for the following year- and hardly anyone has played a complete season in 2020 due to the covid-19 pandemic! That means we’re expecting injury rates to rise in 2021. 

 From our view as health professionals, we know your recovery time reduces significantly if we see you for a niggle in pre-season that we nip in the bud, than if we see you for a injury the week before finals that you kept running through and almost become a shareholder in Dencorub for (great stuff, but best not to over do it).

The most common sporting injuries we see are a result of  ‘too much too soon’– if you’re just starting out or getting back into it for the first time in a while, take it easy.

Up to 70% of injuries we see are from increasing your training volume, intensity or frequency too quickly.

Talk with your coach and your health professional about loading your body correctly, especially if there is a previous injury. 

We only want to be changing one component of your training at a time, and we want that change to be relevant to you and your goals. This may be the frequency, intensity or volume. If you are just getting back into training, you can increase your load up to 30% per week. This number will decrease as your training load increases.

Unfortunately, no amount of foam rolling is going to help you if you are training above what your body is able to withstand. 

Plan for recovery- just as important as the training. The harder you train, the harder you have to recover. Plan ahead so you know when you will be training and when you will be recovering. Make sure you are getting enough sleep for your recovery. Our injury risk ALMOST DOUBLES if we are getting less than 8 hours per night!  

Seek professional help when you do have pain and early. It is hard to differentiate between what is an injury that needs to be seen by a health professional and what is a niggle that will subside. As a general rule, if you go and train and that pain is present for that training session, it then subsides within the next day, that is fine to continue on. If however that pain persists past that 24 hour mark, go and see your health professional. this  is a good tool to use, made by the Running Physio, Tom Goom.  [

As podiatrist, we specialise in assessing your lower limb biomechanics (how your legs and feet function) and determining your level of risk, as well as making sure your shoes or boots are the perfect match for you and your sport. Our aim is to have you at 110% leading into the winter season and your feet play a huge role in that! Don’t neglect them! 

Reach out, I’m more than happy to help where I can. 

If it’s netball, AFL, soccer, rugby, running or whatever the sport be that gets your adrenaline pumping, I wish you all the best in the upcoming season!

Gabby Mence, Podiatrist.