Episode 8 - That time after Up Helly Aa and before the rest of the year.

February 6th 2018 |

Interestingly, over the last few months of the year and up until the last Tuesday in January, we see plenty guys who seek treatment for injuries sustained doing a random dance routine, practicing an Up Helly Aa act and also after a night of dancing for 12 hours on Up Helly Aa night. All for the sake of great fun however.

What we find in this period just after Up Helly Aa is that people in Shetland start to plan for the rest of the year. It is a bit like the year doesn’t start for many people until now. For many people, that means starting back into training or stepping up training towards whatever sports event or season might be coming up soon. Most people seem to train really hard and try to squeeze several months of pre-season training into a much smaller timescale. That can increase the risk of injuries. Let's take an example. A couch to half marathon type of runner might try to do more running, run faster and for longer in a space of 8-10 weeks to prepare for their half because December and January were a bit sporadic in their training plan.

There was a saying I once heard that says 'if you fail to plan then you plan to fail'. It's pretty true for sports specific training as well. You need to plan a training plan before you start it. Think about what your main aims are and then break that into smaller goals. If you achieve the small steps, you end up achieving the bigger goal.

Another thing that can help you through this period is taking time to stretch the muscles that become tight as a result of the training you are doing. If you do some running as part of your sport then make sure you stretch both the front and back of the legs but also the outer side of the hip and glutes and inner thigh muscles as well. People presenting with injuries have often missed a key area when doing their stretches. They know they should stretch but do not have the balance in their stretching routine to target all areas. Quads and hamstrings usually get stretched but most often, people miss out adductors and glutes. There are hundreds of stretches out there but balance around the whole area is essential.

If you do not require so much running in your sport or activity but instead use a lot of upper body then make sure you stretch the chest muscles, the muscles down the side of the trunk, the lower back and also the neck. The posture you adopt in the rest of your life will impact on how well you play your sport. Young swimmers are a good example here. Many young people have a slouched forward posture and some get neck or shoulder pain as a result. When they get in the pool they have to work hard to fight against that posture. That leads to two things usually; injury and slower times.

Have a think about your stretching routine. Is it balanced with the amount of training you are doing? Does it offer a balanced approach which counteracts everything you do in your sport? Does it feel better or worse after you stretch? Is it worth spending a couple of minutes each day stretching to mean you can keep doing the sport or activity you enjoy in the short and long term? I suspect so.

Let me know if you have any specific questions but hopefully this at least makes you think about your post Up Helly Aa training plan over the next few months. Good luck everyone.

Ross Smith