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What you need to know about returning to sport safely

Published: 29 November 2023


5 Tips to Help You and Your Body Prepare for the Upcoming Sport Season

Are you missing your sport? COVID can be blamed for many things, including shortening our sport seasons. Most of us have missed our teammates, coaches, supporters and that smell of freshly cut grass. As we don our boots, sneakers or cleats, it’s important to remember that our bodies have been on hiatus too. Returning to sport too quickly can put our bodies at risk of injury.

Allsports Physio clinics want to share ways to prepare your body for the upcoming sport season. Our hope is that we can help you avoid injuries and set you up to enjoy your return to sport. If you have lost your pre-season fitness, here are our top 5 tips for returning to sport:

1. Take the time to warm up

Taking the time to warm-up is pivotal to preparing your body for exercise – as a general guide we recommend the following warm-up: [1]

  • Brisk walk/stationary bike ride or light jog for 5-15 minutes to increase your heart rate slightly and make you sweat a little
  • Dynamic stretches for the main muscles used during your sport – such as leg swings, gentle trunk rotations and/or arms swings
  • Body weight exercises performed for 10 reps – such as squats, push ups and/or calf raises

2. Incorporate balancing exercises

Proprioception (balance) exercises (these exercises are great to help prevent ligament sprain injuries) – such as standing on one leg to balance, standing on one leg and using your other foot to touch the ground around you like a star (aka the star excursion exercise), which can be performed for 1-2 minutes.

3. Work on maintaining muscle strength

Thinking about the main muscles you use during your sport and making sure you target these to help reduce the risk of muscle strain:

  • Single leg squats (10-20 reps x 3)
  • Single leg calf raises (10-20 reps x 3)
  • Single leg glute bridge (10-20 reps x 3)
  • Hamstring curls (use a theraband or, if you’re in the gym, you can use the hamstring curl machine) (10-20 reps x 3)
  • If you have a gym membership, ensure you utilise the weights and machines to target specific muscle groups needed for your sport

4. Maintain muscle memory

Muscle memory (motor control) exercises – these are used to “prime” the correct muscles and get your brain talking to your muscles:

  • Theraband rotator cuff drills (10-20 reps x 3)
  • Pilates exercises

5. Don’t forget the warm down

Warm-down is just as important and you want to ensure that you take the time to let your body unwind after exercise by performing static stretches and holding for 30 seconds (stretch sensation should be comfortable) as well as foam rolling the muscles that have worked

 * The above suggestions are a guide only and should be performed at the level appropriate to your exercise tolerance

If you still feel a bit lost with knowing how best to prepare to return to sport, we recommend getting in touch with your local Allsports clinic. Our physios will be able to help point you in the right direction. Time spent preparing for return to sport and “pre-habilitating” can  pay enormous dividends by avoiding an injury that will cut your playing season short!

Be proactive, not reactive

Our team of allied health professionals are always here to provide you with tailored treatment and advice. To book an appointment you can visit our website, or click here to find your local Allsports clinic.



[1] Park, H. K., Jung, M. K., Park, E., Lee, C. Y., Jee, Y. S., Eun, D., … & Yoo, J. (2018). The effect of warm-ups with stretching on the isokinetic moments of collegiate men. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, 14(1), 78.

[2] McCrary, J. M., Ackermann, B. J., & Halaki, M. (2015). A systematic review of the effects of upper body warm-up on performance and injury. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 49(14), 935-942.