The moment his knee pain triggered, Rafael Nadal said ,” I am off to a break.” Remember Roger Federer had a six month’s hiatus before the rub of the green went his way in Wimbledon, 2017. Usain Bolt skipped many international leagues before his lightning finish in the Rio Olympics, 2016. The Indian cricket team is rightly following the connoisseur’s path. Bharat Arun, the low profile bowling coach of the Indian team is high on wisdom on both technicalities and exercise science. His vision has ensured that Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma will not frequently break down like the power units of Delhi. Shanker Basu the trainer and Patrick Farhurt, the physio gave the right inputs too.
Read the statistics. Lionel Messi has logged on 600 matches in Barca official site in 13 years. Add 118 international matches for Argentina. Even if the exhibition matches are ignored, his tally of 718 matches in 13 years gives a mathematical equation that he played 55 matches every year. That makes it one match in every 6.5 days. By any stretch of imagination it’s phenomenal workload.
For any game the longevity of a player depends on how his or her body is taken care of. The trainers, physios, masseurs and nutritionists have made best use of progress in exercise science. The most remarkable is the evolving of prehab, rehab and recovery.
Let’s simplify the jargons. Prehab means identifying the weak link in the body which is susceptible to injury. Rehab is repairing a damage in the body. Recovery relates to putting the body back to its normal state after a match.
Has this fitness revolution made any impact on the likes of natural talents like Garry Sobers or Ian Botham? This was the question Harsha Bhogle threw on Adrian La Roux in a chat show.
La Roux replied, “Certainly. With enhanced fitness and recovery means there would have been less injury to Garry and it could have extended his career.” Exactly that. You can see how Roger Federer juggernaut is rolling on at 36.
The relentless work of a fitness coach, physiotherapist or masseur is hardly noticed. Federer is lavish in his praise for his trainer Pierre Pagganini.
Virat Kohli attributes his transformation to trainer Shanker Basu. At the National Cricket Academy the string of current Indian players Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Wriddhiman Saha were handed over papers on their prehab exercises. The straight leg raise would reveal flexibility of the hamstring muscle. Tightness meant chances of both hamstring injury and back pain.
Nowadays, trainers will go deep into the root cause of the hamstring tightness with assistance from the physio. What appears a simple tightness may end up in poor biomechanics of the feet or lack of stability in the lumber spine. The findings will not only fix the issue but prevent it from recurring. That’s the intrigue.
You can see some are taking a break and some are bouncing back after breaking down. Martina Hingis was long gone with a career ending ankle injury back in 2003. After multiple surgeries she returned to court and bid adieu in 2017. She thanked all the support stuffs.
(Chinmoy Roy is a veteran fitness expert & trainer and has been associated in different capacities with Indian and Bengal cricket for decades.)