5 Tips for Preparing for Winter Sports on the Hardwood

Football, cross-country and soccer season are coming to an end, and student-athletes are moving indoors to the hardwood for the basketball and volleyball season. Here are five tips from athletic trainer Chris Unkraut, MHA, ATC, CSCS, Head Athletic Trainer for St. Elizabeth Sports Medicine, to keep you healthy as you transition from the soft outdoor surface, to the court.

  1. Ease Your Body into the New Activity
    The most important element when transitioning from outdoor sports to indoor sports is to familiarize your body by progressing into the new activity slowly. Moderately increasing the frequency, intensity and the time of the new sport is ideal. Going from 0 to 60 is a path which may lead to an injury. You need to give your body time to adapt to the new movements and stressors you are introducing.
  2. Start Practicing and Conditioning Before Tryouts Begin
    Surface changes, like those from the field to the hardwood floor, typically lead to injuries related to the legs, knees and ankles. Shin splints, ankle sprains, knee tendonitis and muscle pulls are the most common injuries when you switch playing surfaces without properly adjusting to the new sport.
  3. Wear Proper Shoes
    Properly fitting shoes that are designed for the indoor surface and have good arch support can help ease the transition and decrease the likelihood of sustaining an injury. To keep your shoes from slipping, make sure your shoe has the appropriate tread. The older the shoe, the more likely you are to slip.
  4. Make Sure Playing Surface is Clean
    Prevention of dust on the floor is the best solution to slipping and traction issues when playing on an indoor court. If the floor is swept and cleaned regularly, the playing surface will have more traction.
  5. Use Dynamic Warm-Up Methods
    Many teams and athletes are now warming up with a newer method known as a dynamic warm-up. This means you move and stretch at the same time. This helps warm muscles up and stretches muscles through normal athletic movements. Incorporating plyometric exercises, consisting of jumping and landing with proper technique, as part of your dynamic warm-up can also help reduce injury on hardwood floors. Since winter sports consist of sprinting, jumping and quick direction changes, plyometric exercises will help stabilize knee and ankle joints by working different muscles groups simultaneously.

If you experience a sports injury this season, contact St. Elizabeth Healthcare Sports Medicine at (859) 301-5600.