When athletes think about staying healthy, most focus on exercise, equipment, and technique. But too often, they go without the help of an athletic trainer.
Whether they specialize in one sport or play multiple sports year-round, many young athletes are eager to perform their best in hopes of garnering college scholarships. Here are some tips from the athletic trainers from UPMC Sports Medicine to help young athletes avoid injury and stay in the game.
Staying in the Game: 6 Injury Prevention Tips
Athletic trainers are often able to provide injury prevention screenings to detect underlying conditions as well as factors that may predispose athletes to overuse injuries. They also are trained to deliver health care services that include emergency care at practices, events, and games; provide ImPACT® concussion testing; and monitor injury rehabilitation to help athletes return safely to their sports.
Develop a proper training plan
This involves more than just strength and cardio. Young athletes should develop a training plan should incorporate rest days to allow the body to heal. It is also recommended that the athletes complete stretching exercises before and after training to improve flexibility. Athletic trainers can provide guidance on pre-season, in-season, and off-season conditioning.
Know your body and its limitations
Young athletes, especially baseball pitchers, attempt to throw hundreds of pitches a week to prepare for the season. This often leads to arm fatigue, tendonitis, and other injuries. To prevent overuse injuries, coaches and athletes should monitor and limit the amount of time allowed for any repetitive activity.
Replace worn out or old equipment when necessary
Soccer players and runners tend to suffer from shin splints, a painful inflammation caused by excessive training or running in worn-out shoes. To prevent this injury, it is recommended that shoes be replaced after 300 to 500 miles of use. Also, be sure to replace any piece of equipment that no longer fits securely.
Take time to rest and recover
It’s not uncommon for athletes to jump from one sports season to another, let alone from their high school team to a club team to keep a competitive edge year-round. Athletes should take time off between sports seasons to allow their bodies to recover. For a multisport athlete, consider taking 10 days off between seasons. For a single-sport athlete, four to six weeks of rest is recommended.
Proper nutrition helps young athletes fuel athletic performance and recover from training. Plan and prepare portable snacks or meals.