This is it, the roadmap is out and the return to play is so close we can almost touch it. What we need to make sure is that along the road you don’t trip, fall and hurt yourself – metaphorically of course – as the increased risk of injury for players right now is real.
The British Medical Journal have released a graduated return to play program which will help ensure that once we do get back to the point of actually playing full contact sport again you’re in a position to survive it!
Due to the complex nature of Covid-19, and the idea that many people have had it without even knowing, we’re in unknown territory and have to tread carefully, placing everyone under a safety blanket. Step one is very light, minimal output, walking and other light daily activities. The main thing here is to be mindful of your resting heart rate, if it’s staying usually high, or you’re getting much more fatigued than you usually would.
Step two is where I know a lot of you guys have spent the break, intentionally or not. Running or cycling, keeping a baseline of fitness and readying yourselves for the next phase of training. Again, at this point being aware of any unusual symptoms, soreness or fatigue is important before moving on to the next phase of progression.
With teams beginning to call small collective running sessions it places the majority of GAA players in step three. It encourages an increased frequency of training, with simple movement and running drills at their core.
The encouraging thing about the British Medical Journal’s guidelines are that the steps can all be moved through quite quickly, as long as there are no red flags with regards Covid-19 symptoms.
In the second part of step three, training duration and complexity can now increase, skills development is allowed to be brought back in to play and even though it’s still recommended sessions shouldn’t be done at full pace it does feel like this will begin to feel a little more familiar to everyone.
Step four is essentially back to a full training schedule done at 80% intensity.
If that is survived, symptom-free for a minimum of three sessions then there is a green light for full return to play.
Train smart. Listen to your coaches. Be patient.
Be mindful of any strange symptoms you may be suffering and be quick to report.
I know everyone is bursting to get back to the pitch but better to get back, safe and injury free than with a soft tissue injury and a fever that will rule you out of this shortened, intense block of games!
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