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Ready, Steady, Crocked
by: Brian Mantel
The motorway was hell, your dinner was in the dog, but by some superhuman effort involving changing in a telephone booth, you just about made it to the sports centre on time. You've had a bad day, you want to hit something, but you couldn't find the traffic warden, so it will have to be a shuttle. And now…you're raring to go.
You strip off the tracksuit, select your favourite racquet (hopefully a Prince) and step onto court for a 'knock' – just to warm you up. Jim whacks one up and you, forgetting that you're not playing for the Town Hall clock, in fact not even playing, leap backwards and hit a clear, exercising a perfect scissor kick just like your coach taught you. Magic.
Regrettably, the twang you hear next is not the sound of your sweet spot connecting with the shuttle, but rather that of your Achilles tendon snapping as your foot hits the ground. No more badminton for a while then; but, hey, no more motorway either, unless you drive an automatic.
The moral of this story is that a knock up is a knock up, not a warm-up. Badminton is a physically demanding sport and the better you are the harder it will be. (Assuming that your opponents are of a similar standard). Whilst it is true that most club players do not warm up, it is also true that many of them pick up injuries, particularly as they begin to age. Many years ago I recall writing a newspaper article in which I described a veteran pair as 'one bandage short of a full set'.
Research as early as the seventies highlighted that calf injuries are common in badminton, especially with the over 35s. Shoulder injuries are also common. Not all injuries are accidental; many result from overuse or bad technique (or both). There is a wealth of information available on warm-up and stretching, but I will write about warming up for badminton in the future. A few minutes warming up, light jogging, sidestepping, and some stretching, could save you a lot of money on bandages.
You only get one body; look after it.