Introducing the second instalment of our three-part Wattbike Soccer Mini-Series with Ben Young, Inter Miami Head of Strength and Conditioning.
In this episode, we talk with Ben Young about athlete rehabilitation and the vital role the Wattbikes play in this process within the club.
He talks about why he gets injured players onto the Wattbike as soon as possible, using the Wattbike for off-feet conditioning and his top 6 key benefits for rehabilitation purposes.
Let’s find out more…
When do you use the Wattbike when it comes to injured players?
When we have an injured player, they go on our return-to-play (RTP) rehabilitation programme and my aim is always to get that player onto the Wattbikes as soon as I possibly can to help with the rehabilitation process. The benefits of the Wattbikes when it comes to rehabilitation purposes are massive.
What are the key benefits of the Wattbike for rehabilitation?
In my opinion, the benefits of using the Wattbike to speed up the rehabilitation process safely for injured players boils down to 6 key areas…
Encouraging blood flow Cycling encourages blood flow to the site of the injury which in turn can help to regenerate the area and maintain joint mobility and range, depending on the type of injury, of course.
Off-feet conditioning Working on key fitness qualities during a long rehab process is absolutely essential. The running demands of soccer are significant, however, when the athlete is unable to get onto the pitch to run, the Wattbike is an excellent option for off-feet conditioning. This allows us to develop all aspects of physical fitness from the aerobic end of the spectrum, to lactate tolerance sessions to multiple peak power bouts without the player placing too much impact on the lower limbs.
The Wattbike allows us to not only improve fitness outputs but also produce peak forces before the beginning of running progressions, in turn allowing progressions to be quicker and lessening the metabolic burden down the track.
Mental Motivation Mentally, even when injured, the best athletes want and need to be challenged. We try to tap into their competitive spirit as early as we can to keep them motivated and allow them to apply maximal intent, in a safe way for their injury, as often as possible.
Encouraging elite behaviours By ensuring all phases of the return-to-play (RTP) process have an element of old-fashioned ‘hard work’, it encourages the athlete to continue with their competitive performance routines and still ‘feel’ like an elite athlete.
This helps athletes to remain focused on their sleep, recovery and nutrition to prepare for BIG sessions, even if rehabilitation sessions on the Wattbike due to the injury.
Body composition So many players have expressed how important maintaining their athletic physique is whilst injured, upholding this physicality is critical to all areas of their life, and sense of self. Fitness based rehab sessions using the Wattbike still allows us to integrate a challenge, appropriate to the stage of rehab, and helps maintain good levels of body composition during a period of lower energy expenditure.
The shift of focus When the time is right, we can use the Wattbike to seamlessly shift the intent from the ‘higher priority’ rehab and therapy sessions which are often lower-level stimuli and allow the athletes to apply high levels of application and intensity.
Ben Young is a professional physical performance specialist and strength and conditioning coach from the UK as well as a founder of E-Perform Football, a specialist training company from the UK.