Preparing Your Body For Back-to-School Athletics
Summer is winding down and many student athletes and prospective student athletes are gearing up for team tryouts and the upcoming season. If you’re serious about your sport, then hopefully you’ve had these tryouts in mind during your school break and remained fairly active and in shape this summer. The last thing you want to do is experience a sports injury during tryouts and miss a potentially exciting season.
If you haven’t been active, the time to start conditioning is now. You not only need a grasp of the fundamentals for your particular sport, you’ll also need flexibility, stamina, and strength to play at your best. Running/jogging or other cardio work, combined with strength training activities like sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, squats and weight work several times a week are recommended. It’s important to use the right technique not only to achieve the best results, but to prevent pre-season sports injuries to knees, back and shoulders. If you’re unsure of how to properly do any exercises, work with someone who can instruct you on correct technique.
Flexibility is also important in allowing for ease of movement and preventing sports injuries. Stretch while warming up before your workout, as well as afterwards, to reduce the potential for post-workout cramps and soreness, and to aid in muscle recovery. While stretching may not seem like a priority, the best slo-mo sports replays often involve a receiver’s impressive stretch for the catch, or a second baseman’s unbelievable lunge to the tag, feats that look effortless due to an athlete’s flexibility.
Soreness after a particularly hard workout is not only normal, it’s desirable when building muscle. Damaged muscles do need time to recover, however, so work different muscle groups each day, to give them a break. Sharp or excessive pain should not be ignored, however. You could have a sprain, strain or stress fracture that needs rest or attention.
When preparing the body for ongoing physical exertion, proper nutrition is vital both for fueling workouts and recovering afterwards. Light, nutrient-dense whole grain, complex carbohydrates make great pre-workout fuel because they’re easily digestible and ensure a long-lasting stream of energy, while anti-inflammatory diets high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids reduce soreness and shorten recovery time. Chicken, fish, nuts, seeds and leafy greens are all great after going all out on the track, field or court.
Another factor that cannot be underestimated is the importance of hydration, particularly in the Texas heat. Football two-a-days, soccer practice and other sports conditioning programs often happen out-of-doors during the hottest part of the year. If you’re not used to it — and even if you are — it’s easy to become dehydrated. Most sports programs supply water for player use, so make sure to drink it. When it’s really hot, sports drinks or other electrolyte beverages are even better. It’s important to hydrate before, during and after exercise to help your body recover.
The start of school is an exciting and stressful time for high school athletes. Along with helping you achieve your sports and fitness goals, we aim to help keep you in the game with a safe season free of sports injuries.
BASELINE CONCUSSION TESTING: We recommend baseline concussion testing once a year. Call our office for more details about how to get your teen athlete’s baseline concussion test completed prior to starting sports this year.