United’s Head Physio Rob Swire gives an insight into what the players have been doing during their pre-season preparations for the past two weeks, and explains how the club try to prevent injuries to footballers with increasing demands on their bodies…
So, what do the players do on the first few days back in training?
The first day was spent carrying out tests for the medical department. Then the second day they did some fitness tests for the sports scientists at the club and on the third day they started training.
What does that mean for the backroom staff?
There’s a lot of work that goes into that from the staff. We carry those tests out and then start analysing the data. You hope that most of the players are quite fit, and we’ve found that they are. We finished last season without too many injuries, so we should have everyone fit fairly soon.
How much have footballers’ fitness changed in recent years?
I’m sure in five years’ time the fitness levels will be even higher than they are now. It’s such a big factor in the game. It’s changed enormously since I first joined the club. The increased fitness creates more demands on the body which can make players more vulnerable to injury. Improved fitness can work both ways, it can prevent some injuries but it also puts physical demands on the body, which can lead to injuries.
Do the players welcome the demands on them?
The players are always pushing themselves and each other. It’s not as if the players get to a level of fitness and think, ‘this is as fit as I can be’. They’re always pushing to become even fitter.
What difficulties do you face in protecting the players from injury on pre-season trips?
When you go to countries where you experience heat and humidity, like the Far East, you need to prepare slightly differently to you do for, say, South Africa where we visit