With September just around the corner, the seasons of many high school and college sports are almost upon us.
Soon, athletes everywhere will be hitting fields, courts, and ice rinks across America, seeking their own version of glory.
However, nothing dashes dreams quicker than an untimely injury. Some treat these occurrences as bad luck, but in many cases, they are entirely preventable.
Dr. James DeVellis has treated/advised numerous athletes in Massachusetts over the years. During that time, he counseled them on how to take care of their bodies so they could minimize the risk of spending time on the sidelines with an injury.
If you’d rather be in action than watching the game as a bystander, keep the following pointers in mind.
1) Warm up properly
When you first step onto the field/court/ice, your muscles won’t be in a state to tolerate a rapid escalation in movement without risking serious damage.
As such, it is important to perform warm-up exercises that will ease your muscles and ligaments into a state where they can handle strenuous movement.
By performing stretches, light calisthenics, and moderate reps of resistance exercises, you will increase the flow of blood to your muscles and stretch them so they can handle the demands of competition.
2) Use correctly-fitted protective equipment
Often, athletes will inherit equipment from older siblings, or they will source it from second-hand sales in their local community.
While this is done to save money, it is often worthwhile to invest money in buying gear that properly fits its wearer.
For example, ill-fitting shin pads can lead to an errant puck injuring a hockey player when a proper-fitting pair would have protected them from this incident.
3) Train smart
Jocks looking to gain an edge on their competition usually hit the gym hard in the off-season. While the gains they pursue will look good in the mirror, focusing too heavily on bulking and not enough on movement can lead to injury.
Over training is another concern, as the pursuit of a new PB can lead an athlete to perform a few too many reps at an overly ambitious weight.
By contracting the services of a qualified athletic trainer from the start, these mistakes can be avoided.
4) Be prepared for the movements your sport requires
When you are training, consider carefully the movements you will go through most frequently in your sport.
For example, baseball players should train their arms and perform exercises that emphasize throwing and swinging motions.
On the other hand, plyometrics are of great value to basketball players, as jumping to shoot and go after rebounds is a frequent motion performed in that sport.
5) Take it easy out there
At the end of the day, fewer than 1% of athletes will go on to the major leagues. Sometimes, athletes place so much pressure on themselves trying to achieve glory, they take risks that ends up putting their health at risk.
In playoff and championship game scenarios, such actions are understandable, but in other spots, it is often best to pick your battles wisely so you can live to fight another day.