Strength and conditioning: what is it and why should I care?

Strength and conditioning (S&C) is a type of exercise programme developed for athletes to improve their performance and reduce their risk of injury. Strength and conditioning coaches will work with sportspeople or athletes to develop attributes such as speed, agility, strength, power and endurance. This type of training occurs in addition to the technical sport specific training and coaching. S&C tends to by gym based and has a focus on developing strength. This doesn’t mean just lifting weights though. One of the key aspects of S&C is identifying the needs of the athlete and creating an exercise programme specifically for them. For example, a basketball player may want to be able to jump higher, so the S&C programme would aim to improve the explosive power in their legs, whereas an archer may want to avoid fatigue when holding the bow for long periods, so the S&C programme would look to increase the endurance of their shoulders and core. In both cases, the programme would involve a variety of strength and movement exercise drills. This is where S&C starts to get useful for non-athletes (although arguably we are all athletes of some kind, whether that’s lawn mowing, children carrying, 5 a side football or marathon ironing). Strength training is now well established to be the best way to prevent injuries, whether that’s recurring back pain or a cruciate ligament rupture in the knee. Experiencing an injury or episode of pain once, makes you much more likely to experience it again, so strength training is the best option to prevent against this happening. The other key aspect of S&C is movement drills, and movement in the form of exercise is the best way to treat painful conditions and injuries. So, if you play sport and want to perform better and reduce your risk of injury, or have had an injury and want to reduce the risk of having another, or you are currently experiencing pain from an injury, S&C is probably something you should be doing. Unfortunately, getting access to good quality S&C training is difficult, even for people participating in high level sport. The good news is, most types of exercise, whether it’s jogging around the park, or using the weights in the gym are going to reduce your risk of injury and help with most aches and pains. However, if you find it difficult to exercise because of your pain, or you’re playing a lot of sport and don’t have an S&C programme, or you’re getting pain with certain aspects of your training programme, we can probably help you. We have the clinical expertise to reduce your pain and the exercise rehabilitation knowledge to help get you exercising safely and comfortably. If you’re already playing sport, we can work with your S&C team to improve the efficiency of your programme, or if don’t currently have S&C support, we can introduce you to the basics and get you started.