Managerial changes can spark injuries

Managerial changes at this time of year are not a surprise. Often the only surprise in the Premier League is that there haven't been more managers relieved of their duties at this stage.

Obviously at the top level it's results based. Nothing else matters for clubs like Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough and if the results aren't happening, managers are gone.

But changes at the grassroots level of sport can also happen, albeit for very different reasons and with the change can come a whole host of problems you might not be aware of.

Managers of junior teams or Sunday morning pub sides can leave for reasons such as a lack of time, change in circumstances at work or even just a lack of desire to see the job through until the end of the season. When managers leave and new ones arrive, this is often a pivotal time for an increase in injuries.

Take for example the change of manager at Hartlepool United recently. The squad will have prepared themselves for changes in routine, recovery strategies and the expect that John Hughes will want to set the team up differently, but very few prepare themselves for the biggest change of all - a sudden switch in training methods.

A new manager's first job at any club is to stamp his mark on the team in a positive way as fast as possible. And nearly every manager will look at the fitness aspect of the players. You've probably heard it said so many times, the incoming manager blaming the current fitness levels of the players for the circumstances they find themselves in and as a result players can be ran into the ground.

If this ever happens at your team I'd honestly begin to worry. It's usually a sign that a manager is short of ideas and is buying himself time with the fitness line. Players these days are super fit and just about every player I ever worked with actually enjoyed the fitness side of things as they knew how important it was for them staying in the team.

What is really happening is the manager has introduced the team to a new set of fitness principles that they've not been used to, so it makes sense that they might not come out on top straight away.

I watched as three new managers arrived in my time as physio at Darlington. Mick Tait, Dave Hodgson and Dave Penney all came in and each of them would have their own ideas and thoughts on training methods. And often in the first few weeks I'd see a huge increase in problems and injuries. You see, the issue isn't that any of these managers were training the players wrong, it's just that the player's bodies had got used to a certain way of training each day.

When someone comes along and disrupts that almost over night, problems and injuries happen.

To give you a bit of an insight into the type of thing that can happen when a new manger arrives at this time of year, I've seen one or two managers who view the injured players as malingerers skipping games and training at the coldest and most difficult time of year. And often as a physio I'd be caught right in the middle somewhere.

Inevitably managers would try to stamp their authority on these 'malingerers' and extend traditional treatment times to start much earlier and finish much later in order to separate the ones that were genuinely injured, from those just trying to keep warm. So as you can imagine the arrival of a new manager wasn't a great time for me as a physio.

Only one manager I ever worked with took the time to ask me who I thought was and wasn't pulling the wool, and those types of players do exist within every club, and he dealt with them individually after he'd made his own mind up.

So if there's been a change of manager at your club recently, or there is one in the not too distant future, remember that this is one of the most crucial times to protect yourself from injury.

If a stretching routine or post match recovery routine has worked for you in the past, try not to change it under any circumstances, you know your own body better than any new manager.

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