ACC braces for surge of injuries with amateur sports' return this weekend

ACC is preparing for a wave of injuries this weekend with amatuer sports returning for the first time since New Zealand's Covid-19 lockdown, but officials hope a few pieces of advice will help keep active Kiwis safe.

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ACC injury prevention partner Natalie Hardaker said the last thing she wants is people missing the season after just one game. Source: Breakfast

Winter sports are allowed to begin across the country this weekend with New Zealand holding firm at Alert Level 2, but ACC injury prevention partner Natalie Hardaker told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning that could lead to plenty of work at A and E.

"We've got a situation at the moment that I think a lot of us have never experienced before," Ms Hardaker said.

"It's significantly impacted on our winter sport season and also on the opportunity for preseason training so it's changed everyone's routines, opportunities for training facilities and cross training.

"So we just really want everyone to think about that as they move back into sport and take a really smart and measured approach."

Ms Hardaker said there's evidence behind the ACC's injury spike expectations, with professional sports league previously showing what an extended period without sport can mean for an athlete.

"There was a situation in America in 2011 when the NFL had a lockout and as soon as they came back with their shortened preseason and not having enough time to prepare, they saw a significant surge in serious injuries."

The same issue is being felt presently across the ditch with the Warriors, who have had to resort to loaning players from other NRL clubs due to a spike in injuries as they prepared for the competition's return this weekend after a two-month suspension.

Ms Hardaker said it was the serious injuries that ACC are most concerned for.

"It's those more serious injuries that keep people out of sport and are potentially just going to end the season for them.

"Things like ACL knee injuries - they're the ones that we want to prevent and we know that they are very preventable if we take a smart approach to being physically prepared."

With that in mind, ACC has prepared some advice for everyone - whether they're on the field or sideline - returning to sport this weekend to help keep people in the game and away from the injury ward.

"Players need to accept the situation that we have, be prepared to adapt and follow your coach's instructions," Ms Hardaker said.

"It's really worth taking that time to focus on your physical preparation and you can use programmes like the ACC sport-smart warm-up - if you bring that into your training session at least two times a week than that can prevent some of those [serious] injuries.

"We know that the most successful teams are the ones with the lowest injury rates so the reason we're trying to get everyone to take this progressive approach is so that everyone is still playing at the end of this season and they're good to go next season as well."

Ms Hardaker added there's more sport-specific advice on both the ACC's and Sport NZ's websites Kiwis can look at as well.