Category: Exercise Right.

Training Considerations for Soccer (Football) Players

Training Considerations for Soccer (Football) Players

Soccer (or football) is widely accepted as one of the most popular sports in the world.

Despite this, many amateur athletes and coaches get it wrong when it comes to training and preparation.

Long gone are the days of players running as far as possible for as long as possible to get fit. However, often this approach at an amateur level is implemented still, neglecting other important training elements for the game.

The misconception around amateur soccer players is that training fundamentals such as strength or power development aren’t necessary for their sport – which couldn’t be further from the truth!

Let’s dive into the forgotten training principles of the sport and listen to some important advice from experts at the top on how to take your game to the next level!

TRAINING CONSIDERATIONS FOR SOCCER PLAYERS:

1. Strength and Power

That’s right – hit the weights room.

Strength training within a soccer regime has various benefits on performance for players.

It’s one fundamental of training easily ignored by players and coaches, but training strength and power is an important element of the sport.

Go through your head and think of the basic movements performed during a game – kicking, sprinting, tackling and jumping. Most are repeated power movements. What is power? Well strength forms the basis for power and speed which is crucial to play the sport effectively.

2. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

As soccer is an intermittent sport with repeated bouts of high-intensity activity, it’s fitting to incorporate HIIT training.

Evidence shows that the effects of high-intensity interval training benefit soccer players, particularly among younger players, and helps with endurance and performance throughout the game. HIIT training improves both aerobic and anaerobic capacity and is reported to show greater improvements compared with continuous training methods.

So, does HIIT help your endurance?

A major difference in players at an amateur level is usually how long they can run or maintain their level of stamina for.

Soccer is a game of endurance, with elite players needing to perform at their best for the entire duration of the game. Highly anaerobic, soccer is not about how long you can run for, it’s about the intensity you can put in – the sport demands you to be very active. You are constantly running up and down the field, defending against a player, and moving into space to receive and make passes. You are rarely just jogging around the field.

Using interval training will help your soccer skills significantly. This is when you alternate between activity levels throughout an exercise, giving your heart rate a chance to recover periodically. The best interval training actually alternates between very low energy exercise (low intensity, a slow jog) and bursts of high energy exercise.

This helps your muscles train and condition without straining them unnecessarily, and also helps push your physical capacity to improve your strength or speed without excessive wear and tear.

3. Speed and agility

A significant determinant of success and a key component of the sport is agility. The ability to perform fast bursts of speed and quick changes of direction often separate great players from average ones.

Soccer isn’t linear; it constantly changes from one part of the field to another. You are sprinting, changing direction, stopping and starting. It’s never in a straight line. Training should represent how you play.

WE SPOKE TO THE EXPERTS

Australian national teams rely on the expertise of world leading sports science and sports medicine staff to overcome some of the unique and often extreme challenges they face when competing globally.

We had the opportunity to talk with Accredited Sports Scientists, Fabian Ehrmann and Andrew Clark of Football Australia.

Fabian and Andrew give insight to the training and preparation of players at national level, but also provide advice for amateurs looking to excel their game.

Why should a soccer player strength train? (power, speed, etc.)

Football at the elite level is incredibly competitive and it’s not possible anymore to compete without being an outstanding and well-rounded athlete. Playing football, like many field-based team sports, requires high levels of endurance, speed, strength and agility, which, when combined, act as the foundation for the technical and tactical work required on the pitch.

We know from using tracking technology that physical demands on professional players are increasing from year to year and we also know that individual physical qualities can make a significant difference to a team’s success – whether it’s a striker using his speed to get onto the end of a through ball and score, a defender using his strength to outmuscle strikers at set pieces, or a midfielder using his endurance to cover every blade of grass on the pitch in the last minute of a match.

All this means that elite footballers have to work very hard on developing physical qualities, be it in team training sessions or in supplementary sessions on the pitch or in the gym.

The good news for junior players and amateur players is that what is true for professionals, usually holds true for them as well. Physical qualities along with technical and mental qualities can make a real difference at any level of the game and it just becomes a matter of how we can optimise the training time available to us to ensure all qualities are trained adequately.

Do different soccer playing positions require different physical attributes and how do you account for that in training?

Match demands on players are vastly different depending on where they play on the pitch. Wide players tend to cover a lot of ground and do much more high speed running than central players. Central midfielders often cover the most distance but do so at a steadier pace, while central defenders and strikers tend to run the least but perform more explosive actions (accelerations and decelerations) than their midfield counterparts.

It’s not just playing position that determines how much and what type of running a player needs to do though; playing style and tactical instructions, as well as external factors like heat and humidity, also play a role and must be factored in when preparing players for matches.

One of the most important principles we have to adhere to when planning training for the team or individual players is specificity and this means, amongst other things, that we need to adjust our training to the type of work required of a player in a match. The easiest way to achieve this is by using game variations in training that mimic the demands of the game. This could be large-sided games (8 v 8s up to 11 v 11s) or small sided games (3 v 3s or 4 v 4s). These game forms allow us to overload certain physical components while also training technical and tactical aspects, thereby maximising training time. In professional football, we can use GPS technology to ensure that the training intensity during these drills is at the desired level for us to achieve our targeted outcomes.

At grassroots level, training intensity is a little harder to track (although Session RPE is an excellent and inexpensive way of doing this), but can be manipulated in exactly the same way; changing pitch size (small training areas generally mean more explosive actions, while large areas mean more high speed running and higher top speeds), introducing new rules (how many touches are players allowed to take, extra players on the attacking/defensive team, etc.), and making sure there are plenty of balls in case one is kicked away are easy ways of influencing intensity.

What about training for goalkeepers?

Conditioning for goalkeepers is of course completely different to that of field players. Goalkeepers are usually taller and heavier than their counterparts on the field, as they don’t have the same endurance demands, but they need to be explosive and able to perform these explosive efforts repeatedly if required. They also need extremely good reaction times, which must be worked on in specialised goalkeeping sessions or drills.

How important is HIIT training and what type of HIIT training exercises can soccer players perform?

High-intensity interval training is a fantastic tool for footballers to work on in off-season fitness, to get back to fitness levels following injury or simply top up their regular team training. It trains both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems, and it mimics match demands really well, as football is an intermittent sport, which means there is a lot of low-intensity activity interspersed by high-intensity efforts like sprints, tackles or jumps.

We often use “15/15s” in our training, so 15 seconds of intense running followed by 15 seconds of rest and we do this for a few sets of several minutes. A good starting point for junior and amateur players is probably 2 sets of 4 minutes with 2 minutes of rest in between (so 8 x 15 second runs starting every half a minute, 2 minutes rest, then go again) before working up to 5 or 6 minutes and eventually adding a third set. The distance covered in those 15 seconds depends on the fitness levels of the player. In one straight line it can be anywhere between 75 and 90 metres (again, it’s probably good to start on the lower end before working up to the high end). When adding a change of direction, a rule of thumb is to halve that distance and take 5 metres off to allow for the deceleration and acceleration phase.

Footballers don’t often run in straight lines for extended periods, so manipulating work to rest times, adding changes of direction (try 10 seconds of intense 20 metre shuttles with 20 seconds rest) and combining technical components of the game with high-intensity interval training methodology, are great ways of achieving training goals and keeping individual sessions interesting.

Our creative thinking is constantly challenged when designing game specific physical overload sessions that combine HIIT training principles with technical and tactical components of the game.

Why should an amateur soccer player implement speed & agility training and what are some examples of agility drills?

The ability to run fast and change direction at speed, with and without the ball, is decisive in football, especially to create goal-scoring opportunities in the attacking third. Importantly, like in other team sports, it’s not just important how fast a player can run or turn, but how well he or she can anticipate and react to external cues, like which way is the opponent moving or where will the ball go next. This means for us it is important to incorporate decision making and reactiveness into our speed and agility work.

As an example, a simple progression of agility drills could be a square with different coloured markers, approximately 10 metres apart, and a coach asking the players to run around any combination of colours as quickly as they can (one by one, not all together, and one effort shouldn’t last more than about 7 seconds). The players’ runs are hereby pre-planned, and the focus lies on optimising power and running mechanics. A simple progression would be the coach not calling out the next colour until the player has nearly reached the marker.

The player now can’t pre-plan his or her movements and is forced to be alert and react quickly. A final progression could be a second player starting two metres behind the first player and, on his own device, running towards any marker as fast as he or she can. The first player anticipates and reacts to this run by chasing after player 2, much like they would in a match.

As with all drills we do, we want to make them as interesting and fun as we possibly can. Setting up several squares so players can be competitive and race against each other is a good way of doing this, as is including a ball, for example by allowing the race “winner” a shot at goal while the “loser” tries to stop them.

What should a typical training week look like for an Australian player?

No matter what level or age, it is important to keep three main physical aims in mind when planning a training week. The first aim is to recover fully from the previous match, the second aim is to load – working on maintaining or elevating fitness levels – and the third aim is to taper for the upcoming match – to ensure players are fresh and ready play. Most teams play once per week, either on Saturdays or Sundays, and train twice or three times per week. This gives them plenty of time to recover, load and taper. If teams play two matches in a week, the second match replaces the loading period and recovery becomes a bigger focus.

Weekly training schedule for soccer players.

If we use a team that plays every Saturday as an example, they should focus on recovery on the Sunday and Monday (a little bit more or less depending on the age and the fitness levels of the players). Recovery doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing (although good sleep is essential), instead this period is great for doing light aerobic activities, like jogging, cycling or swimming, and working on football technique with low-intensity dribbling and passing drills.

On Tuesday and Wednesday the focus should shift to ensuring players work on their fitness levels. Teams can play large-sided games one week and small sided games the following week to ensure they overload all aspects of football fitness. Individual players can top up their training with high-intensity intervals and also work on strengthening their muscles (Football Australia’s FUNdamentals and Perform+ programs are excellent starting points for this).

Thursday and Friday should see a decline in training load again as players prepare for the match ahead. Besides tactical training, this period is great for doing speed and agility drills as described above. That should sharpen the players up and ensure they are ready to perform at their best on the weekend.

FOOTBALL AUSTRALIA’S TRAINING AND HEALTH HUB:

For information on how to train and recover like a professional footballer – including tips and tricks around football nutrition – check out Football Australia’s Training and Health Hub.

Training for soccer

Speak with a professional

Accredited exercise professionals are university-qualified who are equipped with the knowledge and skills to improve health, fitness, well-being, performance, and assist in the prevention of chronic conditions.

To find an accredited exercise professional near you, click here.

The Nike Run Club gives you the guidance, inspiration and innovation you need to become a better athlete. Join Nike Run Club to reach your goals and have fun along the way. Download to get started.

Written by Exercise Right. We have partnered with Nike Australia Pty Ltd for this article series. The views expressed in this article, unless otherwise cited, are exclusively those of the author, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA). ESSA is a professional organisation committed to establishing, promoting and defending the career paths of tertiary trained exercise and sports science practitioners.

Nike had no role in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data or research or the writing of this article.

How to juggle exercise and breastfeeding

How to juggle exercise and breastfeeding

Exercise can benefit new mothers in many ways. It can improve mental wellbeing and reduce stress, increase energy levels, increase fitness and strength, improve the ability to complete daily tasks, and improving bone density. But as any new mum will know, being active can be a challenge. Those that are able and choose to breastfeeding can often have questions and concerns when returning to exercise postpartum.

Exercising and maintaining breastfeeding is definitely achievable, and here are some tips below to help navigate this journey:

Support

To support you as you return to exercise, a good quality, correctly fitted sports bra is a must – especially as you progress through to more high impact exercise or running. This is a period of fluctuations in breast size and shape, and it is often advised to wait until 6 weeks following birth to get fitted so your milk supply is more regulated. There are many more sport options available to nursing mums now, with some wire free options offering great support.

Feeding or expressing prior to working out can make exercise more comfortable, as can avoiding exercises with front on pressure, such as incline bench rows or laying on your stomach.

Fuelling your body

Adequate hydration and nutrition are essential during breastfeeding, and even more so when you begin exercising again. It is a time to nourish your body with the fuel it needs rather start a “post baby bod” diet. With appropriate nutrition and water intake, moderate to vigorous exercise does not affect breastmilk supply, nutritional value, immune factors, or increase lactic acid levels in breastmilk. Lactic acid levels may increase following maximal exercise, however there is no evidence to suggest that this causes harm to your baby, and often breastfeeding individuals aren’t exercising at this intensity.

Try to be patient

Your body has undergone almost a year of change. You may be super keen to jump back into your favourite pre-pregnancy HIIT class, but a gradual approach is essential. Breastfeeding or not, a return to high impact activities and running is not recommended before 12 weeks postpartum, after appropriate recovery, rehab and strengthening. When returning, close attention should be paid to symptoms of leaking, incontinence, pain or heaviness in the pelvic region, which are all signs to seek professional help.

Altered hormone levels whilst breastfeeding can delay the return of your menstrual cycle and temporarily decrease bone density, which is generally recovered after weaning. Whilst we know that weight bearing exercise and resistance training is great for bone health, excessive exercise – especially when coupled with poor sleep and nutrition – can have negative impacts upon your health and increase risk of injury.

The importance of rest!

Having a baby is hard! Parents are often sleep deprived, stressed, and it can be difficult to prioritise self-care. The benefits of exercise are often discussed, but getting enough rest is just as essential. As well as trying to get some good quality sleep (wishful thinking, I know), include rest days and easier sessions into your training program, as well as those tougher workouts.

Loosen up!

The amount of time spent breastfeeding in the first year can compare to a full time job! That’s a lot of time spent sitting in the one position, which can take its toll on your neck, shoulders and back. Whilst feeding, using a pillow to support your little one, alternating sides, and being mindful of your posture can assist. After feeding, some gentle mobility and stretching exercises may help reduce muscle tension, improve blood flow, and reduce stiffness.

Need expert advice?

Every body and every birth is different. When returning to exercise post-partum, it’s great to get individualised exercise prescription that takes that into account. To find an Accredited Exercise Physiologist who works in women’s health, click here.

Written by Zoe Williams. Zoe is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at MAIA Exercise Physiology.

What being “evidence based” really means

What being “evidence based” really means

Hop on Instagram and you will be bombarded with pictures of “evidence-based” coaches explaining the “optimal” way to lose fat, build muscle, and improve fitness.

But really, along with being a buzzword used across the industry, what does being “evidence-based” really mean?

Evidence based practice can be defined as a systematic process whereby decisions are made using the best available evidence.

This is done with the intent to remove subjective bias and unfounded beliefs from the decision making process, thus providing the best available service to your clients.

It is important to highlight that while sources of evidence absolutely include peer reviewed research, they also include:

  • Anecdotal evidence
  • Practitioner experience
  • Feedback from clients and patients

Which is what too many people seem to forget.

See, if you are writing a new client program, the peer reviewed research provides a fantastic place to start because it highlights what works for most people, most of the time.

But it is important to remember that research typically provides group level data — and may not always provide the best guidance for an individual.

Everyone is different

To hammer this point home I want to highlight a fantastic 2010 paper by Erskine and colleagues.

In this study 53 untrained men were put on a progressive weight training program that involved performing leg extensions three times per week for nine weeks, where load gradually progressed on a weekly basis.

At the group level, knee extension strength increased by 26% over the nine weeks, while quadriceps size increased by 6%.

Not too shabby.

However, when you look at the individual data, things get a little more interesting…

Image adapted from Eskrine et al., (2010): A) The range of individual changes in MVC [strength] relative to baseline values, B) The range of individual changes in PCSA [quad size] relative to baseline values

Looking at this data, you can see that while the group average increases in strength were 26%, the individual variance ranged from -1% all the way up to 52%.

Similarly, while the average increase in size was 6%, one person saw a -3% change in size, while another grew by an absurd 18%.

And just to be clear, that is not a typo — some people actually got weaker and smaller following a program that aligns pretty well with most resistance training recommendations.

So, where does this leave us?

Being truly evidence based

With this in mind, actually being “evidence based” means using science to formulate a starting point — because that is what will work with most people, most of the time.

But that is not where it ends.

This needs to be combined with your anecdotal experience and the individual response from the human in front of you to ensure that a good rate of progress is maintained.

If you are doing everything by the book and someone simply is not improving, then staying the course is not “evidence based” because you are ignoring the evidence right in front of your eyes.

Similarly, if the research suggests that you should be using a back squat to optimise sprint performance, but anecdotally you know that taller athletes tolerate front squats better, choosing front squats is still “evidence based.”

The key is ensuring you are not married to your beliefs and happy to integrate the evolving literature into your decision making process, then adjusting as necessary based upon your experience as a practitioner and the experience of your clients.

In the wise words of Jake Remmert, being evidence based is not being “science only”.

As any good practitioner knows…

Finding an accredited exercise professional

Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA) offers a search function that allows you to find university-qualified exercise professionals in your area. Anyone accredited with ESSA is held to strict professional standards and a code of conduct, so you can be sure you’re talking to an expert. To find someone near you, click here.

Written by Hunter Bennett. Hunter Bennett (PhD) is an Accredited Exercise Scientist, Strength Coach at BUILT Strength and Conditioning, and Lecturer at the University of South Australia. Follow his research at ResearchGate and read more of his work at the BUILT Blog.

5 tips for managing your health this festive season

5 tips for managing your health this festive season

Christmas and New Year’s celebrations are a fantastic time of year! That said, it can also be challenging to maintain your health over the festive season. In this blog, Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Hayden Kelly, gives us his top tips for balancing health and enjoyment during the “silly season”.

Prioritising your health is still important!

Despite the celebration and festivities, the stress that comes with the season can seem to be somewhat unavoidable. Whilst maintaining healthy habits may seem difficult over this period, it’s important to recognise the value of good nutrition, sleep and physical activity in ensuring you are reinvigorated, refreshed and ready to tackle 2022. Here are some tips for staying healthy over the next few weeks:

1. Start by walking more

Walking is a great way to get some extra movement into your life. Research has shown walking is the most common type of exercise adopted when adults are encouraged to do more physical activity into their lives. It’s also the most likely to be sustained in contrast to other exercise programs because it’s often used as an active means of commuting.

Some of the benefits that can be achieved from simply walking for 10-30 minutes 3 days per week include:

  • improved sleep
  • better cardiorespiratory fitness
  • stress relief
  • improved mood
  • increased energy and stamina
  • reduced fatigue.

The Heart Foundation offers some great resources to help you start walking more. You can search for walking groups within your area or sign up for an individualised walking plan.

2. Move regularly – even if just for a couple of minutes

Your exercise routine will probably look different over this time of year, and that’s okay! Remember, something is better than nothing. Whether it’s a simple walk around the block Christmas morning, a surf or swim at the local ocean pool, it all counts. Physical activity is important not only for your physical fitness, but also your mental health.

Research shows that people who do just 2 minutes of low to moderate intensity walking every 20 minutes see a 24-30% reduction their blood glucose levels after eating (compared to those who remain sedentary). All the more reason to break up Christmas lunch with some backyard cricket!

3. Eat well and enjoy your food

It’s okay to indulge in some of the things you love most over the Christmas period. If that means some Christmas pudding or homemade trifle, let your hair down! You deserve a break. However, remember to moderate your intake. If you intend to drink alcohol during Christmas, remember to stay well hydrated and limit your intake. Every gram of alcohol contains 7 calories, which is comparable to 9 calories per gram of dietary fat. If you’re someone that enjoys a drink, remember alcohol is quite energy dense!

4. Look after your mental health

Mental wellbeing is often a challenging subject and while this is a fantastic time of year, it can also be a tough time for many Australians. While being more physically active and eating well can definitely help your mental health, it’s important to know that it’s also okay to ask for help. If you feel you would benefit with counselling from a trained expert, Beyond Blue provides free services from counsellors available 24 hours, 7 days per week. To get in touch call 1300 22 4636.

5. It’s all about balance

It’s been a BIG year, and we ALL deserve to unwind a bit and enjoy this magical festive season. You can definitely enjoy the things you love while taking care of your physical and mental health. It’s all about balance!

Have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Written by Hayden Kelly. Hayden is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Diabetes NSW and ACT.

The Best of the “Rest”

The Best of the “Rest”

As Dr. Peter Fowler has touched on in his past blogs, it’s clear one of the most important elements of performance and exercise is rest, and it’s also one of the hardest things to do for some!

It’s essential to listen to your body and gauge how you are feeling as well. If you are physically worn out, take a rest.

Neglecting the recovery stage can lead to injuries. More people are trying to find more ways to include recovery in their programs.

Outside of the big rocks of recovery already discussed, which other recovery interventions can be beneficial?

Read below other recovery interventions explained by Dr. Peter Fowler of The Recovery Project

Other recovery interventions:

Hydrotherapy

There is now a good body of evidence supporting the use of hydrotherapy for recovery. This could be active pool recovery, cold water immersion, hot water immersion and/or contrast water therapy (alternating between hot and cold water immersion). Please refer to the section below ‘Should I use an Ice Bath?’ on factors to consider when using cold water immersion.

Compression Therapy

There has also been a fair amount of research conducted on the effects of wearing both commercial (e.g. Skins, 2XU) and Medical Grade Compression Garments on recovery. The evidence suggests that they are beneficial for perceptual recovery outcomes and potentially reducing muscle oscillation during exercise, which could reduce the feeling of soreness post-exercise.

There has been less research conducted on Compression Boots, but this ‘dynamic’ form of compression has been shown to be more effective than the ‘static’ form of compression provided by compression garments. The advantage of the static compression garments is that they can be worn longer (i.e. in between training sessions or overnight), so they can be used in conjunction with compression boots.

Heat Therapy

Whilst there has been less research conducted on this form of recovery, there is some good preliminary evidence supporting the use of heat therapy for recovery. In particular, by upregulating beneficial proteins for repair, which also has implications for injury recovery.

Active vs. Passive Recovery

In general, active recovery (e.g. a light strength/conditioning session, pool recovery, going for a walk in nature) should be prioritised over passive recovery (e.g. sitting in a pair of compression boots or a sauna etc.), but this will depend on the training phase, what you’re recovering from and what you’re recovering for.

The Placebo Effect

Much of the positive evidence for recovery strategies lies with an enhanced perceptual outcome of recovery, often attributed to an individual’s belief in the modality or the placebo effect. Indeed, evidence exists whereby recovery strategies have not improved fatigue levels further than that of the placebo effect. As a result, whilst there are certain scenario’s where you might want to make certain recovery strategies compulsory, in general, as long as the intervention is not going to do any harm, individual preference and choice should be prioritised. In this scenario a Recovery Points System, like this can be utilised.

Recovery points system

SHOULD I USE AN ICE BATH?

The ultimate objective for cooling is to reduce deep muscle temperature, in an attempt to favourably reduce blood flow and metabolism at the affected muscle site, in an effort to diminish the pain and soreness associated with inflammation as a result of muscle damage.

Due to the greater heat conduction properties of water, cooling via water immersion has been shown to have the most effective results in reducing muscle tissue temperature.

Given the role of inflammation in adaptation to a stressor, recent evidence suggests that using an ice bath can reduce adaptations that you get from training, particularly strength training.

Therefore, when making decisions around which recovery interventions to use, you can think about the following 3 things…

1. How long is your recovery window?

    • How long until your next session or competition?
    • Is it short (i.e. less than 24 h) or long (24-72 h)?

2. What you are recovering from/What was the level of stress?

Have you done a strength training session where mechanical muscle damage is more likely to have occurred or an endurance training session where metabolic fatigue is more likely to have occurred?

3. What you are recovering for/What do you want the outcome to be?

  • Is your next session important?
  • Do you want to promote adaptation or is performance more important?

Based on this, an example of when you would use an ice bath is if you had a short recovery window (i.e. two competitions in one day), you were recovering from a high level of stress (i.e. a competition) and you are recovering for another important competition. In this scenario, all you are concerned about is performance and you are not worried about the potential negative effects of the ice bath on adaptation.

Recovery can be periodised in other ways also. For example, across a training week in team sports you may want to use an ice bath immediately following a match to reduce the pain and soreness associated with mechanical damage. Then, in the following days use interventions that are going to increase blood flow (e.g. compression and heat therapy) to reduce metabolic fatigue and increase muscle function.

There are many more nuances and examples, but unfortunately this is all we have space for within this blog!

TOP RECOVERY TIPS

1. Make sure you’re training enough to warrant recovery! You can go the other way and over-recover too. There is no point in finding out what ice-bath protocols to use or what type of compression garments to buy if you’re only training twice a week.

2. Once your training load is enough to warrant a recovery strategy, focus on nailing the “big rocks” first (sleep, nutrition and rest) before you worry about any other interventions (the icing on the cake).

3. Yes, sleep is important, but remember you can’t ‘produce’ it nor be too prescriptive around it. Instead, make sure you don’t have any detrimental habits that may be sabotaging your sleep and that you’re getting enough mental and social rest during the day too. If you’re doing all this and are still excessively fatigued during the day, then seek-out a suitably qualified sleep consultant or sleep medicine physician for help with your sleep.

4. To determine the most appropriate recovery intervention, think about your; 1.) recovery window; 2.) what you are recovering from; 3.) what you are recovering for.

Speak with a professional

Accredited exercise professionals are university-qualified who are equipped with the knowledge and skills to improve health, fitness, well-being, performance, and assist in correct recovery methods.

To find an accredited exercise professional near you, click here.

The Nike Run Club gives you the guidance, inspiration and innovation you need to become a better athlete. Join Nike Run Club to reach your goals and have fun along the way. Download to get started.

Written by Dr Peter Fowler. We have partnered with Nike Australia Pty Ltd for this article series. The views expressed in this article, unless otherwise cited, are exclusively those of the author, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA). ESSA is a professional organisation committed to establishing, promoting and defending the career paths of tertiary trained exercise and sports science practitioners.

Nike had no role in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data or research or the writing of this article.

Exercising with Spinal Cord Injury

Exercising with Spinal Cord Injury

The spinal cord is the pathway through which the brain sends and receives information to the rest of the body. Spinal cord injury (SCI) results from trauma (e.g., motor vehicle accidents or falls) and can cause three types of impairments: completely paralysed or very weak muscles; reduced or absent feeling; and impaired autonomic functions such as reduced sweating or low blood pressure.

The functions that are impaired and how much they are impaired are determined by two things:

  • How high the injury is. The closer the injury is to the brain then the more function is impaired. Tetraplegia (preferred to the term ‘quadriplegia’) refers to injuries in the neck region and typically results in impairments of arm, trunk and leg function. Paraplegia refers to injury below the neck and while trunk and leg function is impaired, arm function is typically normal.
  • The completeness of the injury. When an injury does not damage the full thickness of the spinal cord, some connections with the brain remain intact and some function can be preserved below the level of the injury. The amount of function preserved is highly variable, even for people with injuries at the same level.

In Australia, over 20,000 people are living with SCI. Almost one quarter (23%) of people with an SCI are under 35 years old, and the vast majority are aged under 65.

Men are more likely to incur an SCI, with approximately 70% of new incidences reported in male patients. 42% of people living with an SCI are classified as tetraplegic.

disability wheelchair

THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE

People with mobility impairments, including people with SCI, are among the most physically inactive members of society. This profound physical inactivity is very harmful for health, fitness and function, and compounds the consequences of SCI.

Exercise can help to improve the quality of life of those living with SCI. Exercise interventions can enhance functional independence (e.g., the ability to push around their community without help or get out of their wheelchair and into bed or into a car) and can also decrease levels of depression and anxiety.

Aerobic exercise (e.g., wheelchair pushing, hand cycling, or swimming) improves cardiorespiratory fitness, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and may reduce the incidence of urinary tract infections.

Strength training improves strength of non-paralysed muscles and may improve strength of partially-paralysed muscles.

Exercise interventions that avoid painful movements and include specific upper-limb strengthening can also reduce shoulder pain, a common problem for manual wheelchair users.

TYPES OF EXERCISE RECOMMENDED

The effects of SCI vary enormously. Some people can walk and live independently, while others require a motorised chair and personal support for activities of daily living. Therefore, specific exercise prescriptions that apply to all people with SCI are not possible.

However, in general, people with SCI should:

  • be as physically active as they can be, aiming to accrue at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity on most or all days of the week, and
  • they should also include strength training for major muscle groups and flexibility training for their major joints.

Exercise intensity and duration should start low and increase gradually, particularly for those with tetraplegia or a history of low blood pressure. Short Interval training (5 minutes work followed by full physiological recovery) at low intensity may assist the very unfit to accumulate sufficient aerobic duration.

SPEAK TO THE EXERCISE PROFESSIONALS

Because each SCI is so individualised, tailored exercise prescription is often needed to ensure the individual is moving safely and getting the most out of their training. Accredited Exercise Physiologists are uniquely qualified to support people living with SCIs to enhance function, improve their fitness and improve their quality of life.

Click here to find an Accredited Exercise Physiologist near you.

Expert Contributor: Associate Professor Sean Tweedy, PhD and Accredited Exercise Physiologist at the University of Queensland

The Physical Demands of eSports Athletes

The Physical Demands of eSports Athletes

The world of competitive video gaming is a fast-growing international phenomenon with millions of fans and billions of dollars up for grabs.

Streaming services and live events have turned casual gamers into serious stars who can sometimes rake in seven-figure earnings and massive brand endorsements.

WHAT IS ESPORTS?

Put simply, eSports is competitive level gaming.

It’s teams of people playing games against each other at a professional level, regularly winning huge sums of money as prizes.

These eSports players are contracted to play for a variety of different organisations, much like a football or basketball player would be. These teams practice and compete in their respective game just as a footballer or other sportsperson would too.

Depending on the game they play – from shooters such as Call of Duty to sports titles like Madden NFL – there will be a number of tournaments and events each year with hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes obtainable, sometimes even entering the millions.

These gamers are watched and followed by an immeasurable number of fans all over the world, who attend live events, tune in on TV or stream online.

ESPORT “ATHLETES”?

Although many wouldn’t think it, eSport players experience the same physical and mental demands as any athlete.

By most measures, videogaming is already a sport, and gamers are a highly evolved breed of extreme athlete. The top players form teams, compete in leagues, hire full-time coaches, and adopt strict training regimens.

In 2020, Medium published an insightful article looking at the training regimes of various eSports teams. They found players train roughly 50 hours a week, as a group, plus many individuals choose to train separately on top of this.

They do this while following a customised diet, as nutrition is key to performance and reaction times. Much like with other sports, teams will also review past performance with their coach and analyse what went right and wrong.

The training itself uses state of the art technology that focuses on key functions like attention, memory and reaction time. Training exercises will even mimic real-life situations with crowd noises and changing lights used to get players familiar with the possible distractions they may face in a live competition setting. In addition to training being closely related to the game itself, eSports teams now hire fitness coaches as standard.

The margins between winning and losing are so small that being in physically better shape can end up making all the difference,  and certainly has a direct impact on reaction times, endurance and the ability to maintain concentration for extended periods.

THE PHYSICAL DEMANDS

A study conducted and exposed that eSport athletes are exposed to the same physical strains as “normal athletes”.

The study showed the amount of stress hormone – cortisol, going through the players during a competition, matched those of race car drivers.

In addition, eSports players also had heart rates around 160-180 beats per minute (which is equivalent to running at a high cadence).

According to a study carried out by Queensland University of Technology in 2020, the impact of this is that eSports players are between 9% and 21% more likely to be at a healthy weight compared to the general population.

They also smoke and drink much less too, which firmly challenges the stereotype that people who play video games competitively are sedentary and obese.

The study added that “As part of their training regime, elite eSports athletes spend more than an hour per day engaging in physical exercise as a strategy to enhance gameplay and manage stress”.

Unfortunately, many eSports players still don’t realise the massive bodily demands being placed on them and therefore don’t train for competition in a professional manner.

This can lead to many problems that could be easily prevented with adequate exercise, targeted for eSports players.

I guess the questions remains…

Will we see a gamer make it on the front of a Weet-Bix box one day?

ESPORTS & EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGY

Exercise and physical activity play a key role for success in eSports and should be a focus for players and organisations training eSports players.

This will mean that in the future, young gamers will have more reason and motivation to be physically active.

Esports, even though demanding, is sedentary and poses a large cognitive load on athletes.

A balanced lifestyle can improve overall health for eSports athletes, as well as enhance gaming performance. Exercise produces countless benefits that can help players reach a higher level of gaming — both physical and mental.

As the world continues to wrap their heads around this still up and coming phenomenon, there aren’t many who understand it as mush as Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Samuel Warrener.

Sam has worked as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist for over 10 years and is currently the Managing Director & Founder of the R.E.P.S: Rockhampton Exercise Physiology Service.

Using computer games as a way to switch off from his long clinical days, Sam discovered the need for exercise within the gaming world after talking with others while playing online.

Knowing he could help, Sam created Rehab eSports, combining his two passions – online gaming and exercise physiology.

We spoke with Sam who gave us an insight to common issues among players and the importance exercise can play.

HEAR FROM AN EXPERT:

What role does exercise physiology play in the gaming world?

There are three distinct categories in the gaming world; Streamers, Pro Gamers, and Recreational Gamers. Exercise physiology education, general exercise interventions and individualised exercise prescription is relevant to all of these categories, but varies in focus.

Streamers are incredibly devoted to spending long hours in front of a webcam while playing games or talking to fans and this prolonged sitting is the primary focus of my intervention. Pro Gamers often compete for prize money in tournaments; they often train similarly to elite athletes with skill, fitness, strength, reflex and tactic components. Recreational gamers will often play for fun but are reaping benefits of social community, de-stressing, and freedom from physical limitations that their body is placing on them.

Throughout my time gaming, I have competed in tournaments, streamed and played for recreation and can empathise with each group as well as see the importance of integration of exercise into their daily life. As we (AEPs) do with everyone, we listen to the individual about their current challenges, goals and lifestyle, and use this information to tailor their exercise prescription to suit them, with an aim for improved progression.

What are your general top 3 health tips for gamers?

1. Go AFK to be AOK

Breaking up your gaming sessions is a big key to improving your health and your in-game performance. Getting up and going for a walk allows your eyes to readjust, your hormone levels to rebalance, increase cardiovascular health and improve your mental health.

2. Mods for Posture to Nerf Musculoskeletal Issues

If you’re sitting for long periods or laying down for an extended time, your body gets used to this position and certain muscles will weaken and/or tighten. See the point above for preventative measures, but often we are dealing with years of a habit of poor posture prior to seeking help. To help in these situations, stretches are often needed to improve hip flexor, hamstring and anterior shoulder tightness, as well as strengthening exercises for the glutes, quadriceps and upper back musculature.

3. Set Up Your Gaming Station to Maximize your HP

Whether you’re a pro with more RGB than RAM or a n00b on a potato, your gaming station set up will be something that is unique to you. While setting it up in your style, it might be worth following these few ideas to make sure your war room doesn’t become a sore room:

  • Keep the top of your monitor at eye height.
  • Set up your chair with your feet on the ground and joints (elbow, knees and hips) at 90 degrees.
  • Have all your peripheries (mouse, keyboard, controller) within easy reach.

Speak with a professional

Accredited exercise professionals are university-qualified who are equipped with the knowledge and skills to improve health, fitness, well-being, performance, and assist in the prevention of chronic conditions.

To find an accredited exercise professional near you, click here.

The Nike Run Club gives you the guidance, inspiration and innovation you need to become a better athlete. Join Nike Run Club to reach your goals and have fun along the way. Download to get started.

Written by Exercise Right. We have partnered with Nike Australia Pty Ltd for this article series. The views expressed in this article, unless otherwise cited, are exclusively those of the author, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA). ESSA is a professional organisation committed to establishing, promoting and defending the career paths of tertiary trained exercise and sports science practitioners.

Nike had no role in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data or research or the writing of this article.

Staying active with Multiple Sclerosis

Staying active with Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (commonly known as “MS”) is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. It’s characterised by the formation of areas of demyelination (plaques) throughout the brain and spinal cord. This damage to the central nervous system results in slow or interrupted transmission of nerve impulses and causes a wide range of symptoms.

Symptoms of MS include physical and cognitive disability, extreme fatigue, temperature sensitivity, and depression. There is currently no known cause or cure for MS.

MS affects over 25,600 people in Australia. Most of these people are diagnosed between the ages of 20-40, but it can affect younger and older people too. MS is roughly three times more common in women than in men.

THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE

Today, exercise is considered safe for people with MS.

Many of the symptoms associated with MS are reduced through physical activity and exercise. Research has indicated that persons with MS who engage in exercise have:

  • less relapses
  • increased mobility
  • increased strength
  • increased cardiovascular health
  • lower levels of fatigue
  • lower incidence of depression and anxiety
  • less pain
  • better balance
  • better quality of life

Any exacerbation of symptoms associated with exercise are normally fully reversed 30 minutes after the end of the exercise session. Including exercise in your life as soon as possible after diagnosis is expected to prevent early progression of the disease.

TYPES OF EXERCISES RECOMMENDED

The physical activity and exercise guidelines for adults with mild to moderate MS are:

  • 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity, 2 days per week, and
  • strength training for major muscle groups, including the calf muscles, leg muscles, abdominal, and arm muscles, on 2 days per week.

fitball

If you are already undertaking exercise, the guidelines for mild to moderate MS are:

  • 40 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise, 5 days per week, and
  • strength training for major muscle groups, including the calf muscles, leg muscles, abdominal, and arm muscles, on 2 days per week.

You should also be completing exercise to work on your balance and flexibility as often as each day of the week.

Aerobic exercise can be performed in a variety of settings including individual and group training sessions on land or in water. Use of exercise bikes and elliptical trainers is preferable to the use of a treadmill when there is a risk of tripping and falls. Research has shown that walking is the number one choice of aerobic exercise by persons with MS.

It’s best to start small and gradually increase your exercise intensity and duration. How fast can you already walk? How long can you walk for? Build this up to achieve your 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise.

For strength training exercise, slowly work up to doing two sets of 10-15 repetitions of each strength training exercise. Experiment with timing so that exercise does not tire you out for the rest of your day.

Some guidelines for strength training with MS include:

  • Exercises can be performed in a variety of settings including home, community centre or gym.
  • You can use resistance or machine weights, body weight, resistance bands, or water.
  • Progressive resistance with heavier weights and low repetitions is beneficial.
  • Frequent rest breaks and alternating muscle groups during training helps minimise fatigue.

Stretching and balance exercises can be helpful to improve posture and flexibility and can be done on most days of the week. You can do these strength and balance exercises using gravity or resistance bands, or by challenging normal sitting and standing posture.

GETTING STARTED

If you’re new to exercise, it’s important to start slowly. We recommend working up to the recommended volume of exercise over two to three months and break exercise into shorter bouts of 10 to 15 minutes at a time if necessary. Remember that all exercises can be modified by an Accredited Exercise Physiologist to suit your ability.

The most important thing is to choose exercise that you enjoy, and remember, something is always better than nothing!

THINGS TO BE AWARE OF

Fatigue – fatigue is common in MS; exercise and fatigue management education strategies will actually help your fatigue level in the long term.

Heat sensitivity and MS – physical and sensory symptoms may temporarily increase with small increases in environmental or body temperature. People with MS should be encouraged to keep cool and well hydrated during exercise sessions.

Spasticity and contractures – A person with spasticity may find it difficult to walk or perform certain exercise activities. By performing stretching exercises daily, this can help make muscles longer, helping to decrease spasticity and prevent contracture.

Finding support – support to help you exercise is not to be underestimated. Research indicates that learning about exercise, working with others to overcome your barriers, and identifying facilitators to exercise will make you more successful in increasing your activity levels.

 SPEAK TO THE EXERCISE PROFESSIONALS

A health professional, like an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, can help you tailor exercise so that they are safe and suit your individual needs. They can also show you how to gradually increase your training load so that you minimise the risk of injury or are able to better manage your fatigue.

Getting support from an accredited exercise professional can also help you with goal setting and motivation to help make regular exercise and physical activity a part of your day-to-day life.

Click here to find an Accredited Exercise Physiologist near you.

Expert contributor: Dr Yvonne C Learmonth, Physiotherapist, Discipline of Exercise Science; Centre for Molecular Medicine and Innovative Medicine, Murdoch University, & Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science

How to exercise safely with an acquired brain injury

How to exercise safely with an acquired brain injury

Acquired brain injury (ABI) refers to damage to the brain that occurs after birth. Causes include trauma from an external force (e.g., a direct blow to the head), hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain), substance abuse (e.g., alcohol), and tumours or infections (e.g., meningitis). Two other major causes of ABI are stroke and neurodegenerative conditions.

Consequences of ABI may include:

  • cognitive impairment (e.g., memory)
  • physical impairment (e.g., high muscle tone and impaired coordination)
  • behavioural impairment (e.g., impulsivity)
  • social isolation and poor mental health

However, the functional profile for a person with ABI can vary enormously, from someone who, for example, mobilises with a motorised wheelchair, is non-verbal and depends on personal support for self-care, to someone who is fully independent in employment, self-care and mobility.

ABI is common, with around 1 in 45 Australians (432,700 people) living with an ABI with activity limitations or participation restrictions due to disability. Almost three-quarters of these people are aged less than 65 years.

ABI prevalence increases with age, with people aged 65 years or over more than twice as likely as to have ABI with activity limitations or participation restrictions. The rates of ABI are also higher for males than females at all ages.

THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE

People with ABI are among the most physically inactive members of society, and those with severe brain impairments are less active than those with mild to moderate impairments.

This physical inactivity is harmful for health, fitness and function, and compounds the primary impairments resulting from ABI.

There is strong scientific evidence to indicate that:

  • Aerobic exercise improves cardiorespiratory fitness in people with ABI. The quantity and intensity of exercise required for good health is similar to the general population.
  • Strength training improves muscular strength in people with ABI. While the quantity and intensity of exercise required for improvements is similar to the general population, it should be noted that no studies have specifically investigated the effects of strength training on people with ABI who are affected by spastic hypertonia, an impairment that could potentially affect outcomes.
  • Regular functional exercise (e.g., sit-to-stand, walking or climbing stairs) can improve performance on those tasks (e.g., ease of sit-to-stand, walking speed or walking duration).

Exercise can also alleviate depressive symptoms as well as improve other aspects of mood and quality of life for people with ABI. Importantly, exercise, particularly in group settings, provides structured opportunities for social interaction and development of social skills.

exercise rehabilitation

TYPES OF EXERCISE RECOMMENDED

Because the effects of ABI are very variable and the quantity and quality of research on this population is limited, specific, prescriptive recommendations for exercise programs are not possible. However, some general recommendations can be made.

People with ABI are encouraged to be as physically active as they can. For optimal health, the recommended volumes of aerobic and strength exercise are the same as the general population:

Aerobic exercise:

  • Greater than 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity on at least 5 days per week, or
  • Greater than or equal to 25 minutes of vigorous intensity on at least 3 days per week.

Strength exercise: three sets of 8-10 repetitions of resistance exercises at moderate intensity using major muscle groups on at least 2 days per week.

People with altered joint mechanics (e.g., resulting from contracture or altered muscle tone) can undertake strength training with weights, but joint health (e.g., joint pain, swelling) should be monitored carefully.

For people with functional goals, exercise programs should incorporate functional activities (e.g., ease of sit-to-stand, walking speed or walking duration). Additionally, exercise which provides opportunities for social interaction should be encouraged where possible.

SPEAK TO THE EXERCISE PROFESSIONALS

These recommendations may initially be unrealistic for many people with ABI, particularly those with severe mobility impairments, multiple comorbidities and/or those who have been inactive for extended periods. Therefore, it is recommended that an Accredited Exercise Physiologist is involved in the program design and that they use their knowledge, skills and experience to ensure that initial training volumes and subsequent increases in training volume are individually tailored for the person with ABI.

Click here to find an Accredited Exercise Physiologist near you.

Expert Contributor: Associate Professor Sean Tweedy, PhD and Accredited Exercise Physiologist at the University of Queensland

Exercising with Cerebral Palsy

Exercising with Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy occurs when there is an injury to the developing brain either during pregnancy or shortly after birth. Cerebral palsy results in a physical disability that affects movement and posture and is a permanent life-long condition, which does not worsen over time.

1 in 700 children are born with cerebral palsy and it is considered to be the most common physical disability in childhood.

Cerebral Palsy is classified via a system called the Gross Motor Function Classification System, commonly referred to as the GMFCS.

THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE

People with cerebral palsy of all ages and all GMFCS levels can improve their function and gross motor skills through increasing their fitness levels and reducing sedentary behaviours. Improved function will then allow them to enhance their health and well-being and prevent them from entering a cycle of deconditioning.

The wide range of benefits elicited by regular physical activity include:

  • improved health and well-being (including decreased anxiety, depression and stress)​
  • maintained mobility and range of motion ​
  • decreased sedentary behaviours
  • decreased risk of mortality due to cardiovascular and circulatory complications ​
  • improved sleep patterns and quality ​
  • increased circulation and movement of the bowels and therefore decreased likelihood of bowel obstructions​ and constipation

Exercise programs can be tailored to focus on specific, meaningful life goals and increasing capacity and independence, such as confidence to walk across the road, go swimming, or go grocery shopping.

In one study, participants who were young people with cerebral palsy discussed the psychological benefits of participating in a strength training programme, of having more energy, of having a feeling of well-being, and the benefits of taking personal responsibility.

The social opportunities during exercise therapy are also important as it can result in increased opportunities for people living with cerebral palsy to engage in the community.

disability

TYPES OF EXERCISE RECOMMENDED

Every individual with cerebral palsy is unique, as the type and presentation of their movement disorder depends on the area of the brain affected and therefore impacts the recommended type of exercise.

For example, exercise for a person with spastic cerebral palsy following botulinum toxin therapy would include targeted strength training in the antagonist muscles of the target limb, whereas exercise for the prevention of long-term chronic health conditions and metabolic dysregulation should focus on reducing sedentary behaviours through regular low to moderate physical activity.

Overall, a mixture of aerobic and strength training is recommended:

  • 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week
  • 2-3 sessions of strength training per week

According to existing research, exercise prescription for people with cerebral palsy should include:

  • a minimum frequency of 2-3 times per week;
  • an intensity between 60-95% of peak heart rate, or between 40–80% of the heart rate reservice (HRR), or between 50–65% of VO2peak; and
  • a minimum time of 20 minutes per session, for at least 8 consecutive weeks, when training three times a week, or for 16 consecutive weeks when training two times a week.

Overall, greater gains are made with longer training programs (in terms of duration: 3 months plus of adherence to program) and participating in higher dosages of training.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is important for people with cerebral palsy as it enables them to complete activities such as walking or propelling a wheelchair without being inhibited by fatigue. A range of research reported that fitness training increased aerobic capacity in this population.

Strength Training

Maintaining strength through strength exercise is important to keep muscles healthy and reducing cardiometabolic risk factor profiles and lowering all-cause mortality. Strong muscles are helpful for daily activities like getting up and down from the couch, getting dressed, or leaning forward to put a sling on for hoist transfers.

As cerebral palsy results from an injury to motor regions of the developing brain, muscle weakness is a primary impairment and there is strong evidence showing that children with cerebral palsy are significantly weaker than typically developing children. Resistance training promotes an increase in muscle mass and can be done in a variety of ways such as body weight training, resistance training machines found within a gym setting or free weights.

Some types of strength training are safer than others for different individuals. For example, individuals with ataxia with uncoordinated movements may not be recommended to use free weights due to the risk of dropping them or over-extending their joints. Fixed range resistance training machines are safer in these aspects. Similarly, an increase in energy expenditure due to decreased efficiency of movements in individuals with dystonia can lead to increased fatigue, and therefore adequate rest breaks need to be considered when commencing strength training programs.

cerebral palsy

Functional Training

People with cerebral palsy are recommended to utilise both functional and progressive strength training. This technique involves using exercises that are made progressively more difficult through an increase in the amount of weight or the resistance over time. Functional strength training involves doing everyday functional activities while the amount of resistance increases. Examples of this method include repetitively throwing and catching weighted balls or moving around in a self-propelling wheelchair to help increase arm strength.

Balance Exercises

Due to decreased lower limb strength, co-ordination and poor muscle control, and increased fatiguability of the muscles, falls risk can be high in individuals with cerebral palsy. Balance exercises are therefore important. Practicing both static and dynamic balance, in a range of different foot positions and environments, are great ways to maintain and improve balance.

Hydrotherapy involves training in a heated pool (32-34 degrees), completing exercise tailored to the individual’s unique needs. Along with improving strength and mobility, including gross motor function and walking endurance, hydrotherapy is also frequently used as part of rehabilitation programs following surgery. For someone with severely limited mobility, hydrotherapy can be liberating – enabling much greater movement and range of motion than on land. Hydrotherapy programs can integrate aerobic, strength and balance training in a safe environment.

SPEAK TO THE EXERCISE PROFESSIONALS

There are many kinds of exercises and the ‘best’ type will depend on the person’s age, family situation, health and mobility. The decision to undertake fitness training involves understanding the evidence, cost, time and resources required and putting plans and preparations in place to overcome any potential barriers.

For example, these associated impairments experienced by people with cerebral palsy may significantly impact upon opportunities to participate in physical activities:

  • 3 in 4 people with cerebral palsy experience pain
  • 1 in 4 has a behaviour disorder
  • 1 in 2 has an intellectual impairment
  • 1 in 5 has a sleep disorder

However, none of these should be a barrier to participation.

There are a multitude of exercise and activity options for all individuals with cerebral palsy regardless of level of severity and physical disability. The important thing is finding the right approach for the individual.

The best way to do this is to consult with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist or other suitably qualified health professional such as an Accredited Exercise Scientist. These exercise professionals can also work with local community groups and sports clubs to provide education and training for increasing participation opportunities within local groups and programs for people living with cerebral palsy.

Click here to find an accredited exercise professional near you.

Expert Contributor: Lauren Dadd, Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Clinical Educator at Cerebral Palsy Alliance