The start of the school year means it’s fall sports season – time to put bright new bulbs in the Friday night lights (and find the lids to all your kids’ water bottles).
Football teams have been practicing for weeks now, as have most cross country teams, tennis players, volleyball players, cheerleaders and numerous other middle and high school athletes. But some athletes (student or adult), especially if they are new to a sport, may still be in the slightly rusty phase, trying to get up to competition speed. This is a particularly sensitive time when people are prone for sports injuries.
Mark Rutledge, Senior Regional Director with Roper St. Francis Physical Therapy, Powered by ATI, offers a few tips for easing into the season:
- Pace yourself if you’re a new athlete. It’s natural to try to keep up with more experienced athletes (especially if you’re trying to make a team), but it’s critical to start slowly to prevent injury and overtraining.
- Be careful not to over train. There’s a fine line between training hard and overdoing it. Muscle soreness is to be expected, but pain is another thing. Parents need to have a realistic assessment of their child’s fitness level and should monitor their athlete closely if they are concerned he or she is trying to do too much.
- Don’t try to make up for lost time. If athletes haven’t done a lot of pre-season training, they shouldn’t pour it on to try to catch up. Trying to do a lot of training in a short period of time will often do more harm than good. Be sure to take incremental steps when increasing exercise routines.
- Avoid exercising during the hottest part of the day. Midday (between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.) tends to be the peak for heat and humidity, so try to avoid those hours. If you are doing double workouts, aim for one early and one in the evening, and rest during that 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. timeframe.
- Stay hydrated and schedule in rest and sleep. All the workouts in the world will be for naught if you sabotage your sleep and hydration.