As I write this article I am 28 years old, hardly a senior citizen and yet my body frequently tells me that it doesn’t like what I do to it. No, I don’t eat poorly, or drink excessively. I don’t participate in extreme sports either. I play badminton.
I have always struggled with injuries, even in my later junior years I was often sidelined with some small nagging injury, and on one occasion I wound up in the operating room for arthroscopic surgery to deal with a torn meniscus in my left knee. I’m an extreme example, and as a result I need to be extremely careful about taking care of my body, however the average badminton player can learn from my troubles as well.
Ironically enough my problem is my strength. I have never struggled with putting on muscle, and I have always been quite fast and explosive on the badminton court. At this point you may be wondering how this is a problem. The problem with putting on muscle easily with a sport like badminton is that the movements and demands placed on your body as a result of playing badminton causes your body to develop in a lopsided manner. My left quad is noticeably smaller than my right quad, and as my physiotherapist would testify, my hips, shoulders and basically everything else is unbalanced in some way. These mismatched body parts have resulted in countless injuries over the years. Only one has been very serious, but when you’re constantly dealing with small injuries that keep you off of the court for a couple weeks at a time, it can be very frustrating, and not very fun.
Trying to play at a high level and dealing with these constant injuries can really suck, but taking care of your body for sports isn’t just applicable to high performance players, it’s also very important for the recreational players. If you’re a younger player you are of course less likely to injure yourself during recreational play, but once you get into our late twenties your body starts to slow down it’s recovery from play, and overall you have to pay much more attention to the small stuff. When you get further on in years into your thirties, fourties or later, then the practice of taking care of your body is an absolute necessity if you want to keep yourself on the court.
Here are some things you can do to get your body in condition for playing badminton:
Prepare Your Body For Movement (Warm Up)
Most of you understand the idea of warming up before playing. You’ll probably do some light jogging, or hit for a few minutes before you start playing games, and you might even stretch a little bit too. However, when you look at how dynamic badminton is you realize that doing some light jogging and stretching is very insufficient. You need to prepare your body for the activity you intend to do, and that means movement in multiple directions.
Strength is one of the most misunderstood areas of training for badminton. When we talk about strength training most people think of muscle bound strong men. This is not the type of strength training that we want to use for badminton. The other big benefit of being strong is in preventing injuries, and enabling you to train longer and harder without getting hurt. Remember, strong does NOT mean big. You want to develop badminton specific strength.
If your fitness levels are poor you’re going to be more likely to get hurt. Tired muscles are more prone to injury, not to mention you’re going to end up losing a lot of matches if you can’t keep up with your opponents. Running, bike rider, running stairs and a lot of other activities will help keep you feet for badminton. As fun as it is to play badminton, sometimes it’s good to do activities off court to see improvements on court.
While a number of these other training areas can be helpful in preventing injuries, there are some very specific things you can do. Certain rehabilitative exercises can target some common injuries that badminton players get and if you pay attention to these areas before an injury, you’re less likely to suffer one. For example knee injuries are very common as a result of muscular imbalances caused by playing badminton. You can strengthen your quads and hamstrings to prevent these sorts of injuries.
There are a number of other areas you can cover in order to improve your badminton, but perhaps more importantly to keep yourself healthy so you can keep playing. If you have any suggestions or tips on how you train your body for badminton, or what common injuries you’ve dealt with leave your ideas in the comments.