Having a “career break” from sport is not uncommon.
I’ve done it myself. An early exit from playing cricket every Saturday afternoon in my early 20’s was forced upon due to a job with a professional football club.
And as much as it’s hard to step aside, it’s actually harder to get going again when the times comes.
Five years after I stopped playing, I headed back to playing cricket for Seaton Carew in the NYSD league. But what I found was, that it was no way as easy as I remembered it to be.
Not physically anyway.
Heading towards 30 at the time meant that my muscles, joints and how fit and supple I was, had completely changed from last time I played.
Here’s the thing: I was actually fitter than I’d ever been. Just in a different way. In my teens and early 20’s I was more active in short, sharp burst of training. Which, suited things like my hamstrings and calf muscles and was more appropriate to the football and cricket which I played.
But because of the job, it meant I couldn’t commit to play team sports. So I took up running and riding, only because it was the easiest exercise I could find that I could do off the cuff, in what little spare time I had.
So heading back into playing cricket meant that my hamstrings and other muscles, had completely adapted to long distance running. In other words, they’d shortened. And so despite the stretching I did in the weeks and even months building up to a return to playing cricket, the hamstring injury that happened to me running for a quick single at Marton in the second game of the season, was actually inevitable.
And that’s why it’s hats off to Man Utd player Darren Fletcher for delaying his return to first team action, despite being out for more than a year. I heard it said that Fletcher, who played against Sunderland on Wednesday night, was ready for a come back months ago. But between he and his medical team, they decided against it and spent more time working with a conditioning coach that would hopefully mean that despite such a long absence (12 months), the chances of him being injured any time soon, are now less.
And it’s a lesson that you can learn from him. If you ever have any form of sustained period of absence, you must pay attention to the ‘adaption’ (shortening) that happens in as little as two weeks, if your body isn’t moving regularly like it’s used to.
I know that when I played cricket that first season back, even if we missed one weekend because of something like bad weather or a holiday, the following week would leave me with inevitable, next day aches and pains. Ones much worse than normal due to my body not being in the flow of regular games and proper warm ups and cool downs.
Copy-write: Printed in the Northern Echo. Written By Paul Gough.