An Orange physiotherapist suggests the benefit of a full pre-season could help curb injuries in fast-approaching winter sport seasons, in contrast to last year when preparations were impacted by ever-changing pandemic restrictions.
Competitions region-wide were forced into stop-start lead-ups as governing bodies battled to confirm start dates of condensed competition, with some pulling the pin completely on 2020, exacerbating already-shortened preparations.
As a result, many athletes were left more susceptible to injury.
I don't think people realised how much they missed it, missed the gym, until they weren't able to go.One Strength owner Lyle Davis
"Full pre-seasons will definitely be a benefit, not just physically but from a mental point of view as well and particularly juniors in that aspect I think, because sport is so valuable socially for kids," Pinnacle Physiotherapy Clinic's Rob Thorburn said.
"The pandemic definitely had an impact on the level of injuries but we weren't just seeing people from sporting clubs. People weren't able to go to the gym for a while, so a lot of people took up running, some of whom weren't runners before.
"When people go from zero to 100 straight away, it's asking for injuries. We saw a lot of people impacted by working from home too, who might not have had appropriate work stations or seating too.
"I wouldn't be able to say if more people were exercising through the pandemic, but they were definitely exercising in different ways and the reminder to make sure you prepare is always relevant."
Mr Thorburn and several fitness experts in Orange all agreed the pandemic certainly made people more aware of their physical and mental well-being though, particularly through lockdown periods when restrictions were tight.
One Strength owner Lyle Davis and Iron Ambitions owner Nathan Swann were confident in saying they'd noticed an upswing in the number of people investing in their well-being through exercise during, and after, the lockdown period.
"I don't think people realised how much they missed it, missed the gym, until they weren't able to go," Mr Davis said.
"We got the green light to re-open on June 13 last year and since then we've had a massive influx of people signing up, which we haven't had other than after we did a massive refurbishment.
"About 60 per cent of those people have been new faces that we hadn't seen before too. Obviously for us as a business it's great, but it's great to see that happening in the community as well."
Mr Swann agreed, saying he'd observed 'two distinct groups' of people turning to Iron Ambitions during and after the pandemic, which largely stocks fitness supplements.
"There was people the people who began working out from home during the lockdowns, and the people who came in after restrictions eased and were behind where they wanted to be or was just beginning their journey," he explained.
"Both groups, I think, were taking more accountability for their physical fitness and a lot of that was based around improving mental health, which is great because the two are obviously so closely linked."
That's a trend which has continued as restrictions have relaxed, Mr Swann said.
"During the pandemic we put a focus on our online store, which grew by about 300 per cent," he said.
"But it's kept going, in January our sales were about four times higher than the previous year, so I think a lot more people are still thinking about their physical fitness and committing to it."
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