You may have used the stay-at-home orders over the past few months to get into the best shape of your life, but if you are like most Americans, you probably watched a lot of Netflix and tried to stay safe. As the sports season approaches for student-athletes, it’s important not to go straight from the couch to the field.
“When an athlete isn’t conditioned properly, we worry about injury and the hot weather,” says Dr. Michael Miller of St. Elizabeth Sports Medicine.
Many student-athletes go from one sport season directly to the next, but the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed some athletes to become deconditioned, which could lead to some issues as the sports programs open back up.
“Athletes that aren’t in shape will be prone to overuse injuries if they do too much, too fast,” says Dr. Miller. “This is a year where athletes should start to work out and train before practice with their coach.”
Kathy Boehmer, PT, MHS, SCS, ATC, Specialty Program Coordinator Sports Medicine for St. Elizabeth Healthcare offers some practical tips for athletes as the season approaches:
- Slowly move back into your sport. Start training before the season starts. If you go from doing nothing right back to a two-hour practice, you will be more prone to injury.
- Make sure you do a proper warm-up before every workout. A warm-up should consist of a walk or light jog, stretching and the functional warm-up you typically do with your coach before practice.
- Cool down after your workout. Don’t go straight from a hard workout to sitting in your car. Make sure that you cool your body down and allow your muscles to recover before relaxing.
- Drink enough water. You should drink 8-10 glasses of water a day. If you are outside, you may need a drink with added electrolytes. It is also important to avoid caffeine and sugary drinks if you are working out in the heat.
- Don’t do too much too soon. Pain is an indicator of injury. If you feel pain, make sure you rest and ice your injury. A little recovery time now ensures that a more significant injury does not affect your season down the road. Also, don’t start two sports at the same time. Start training with one sport first.
“Most importantly, give your body time to recover between workouts and if you feel pain – rest,” says Boehmer.
Beat the heat
In Northern Kentucky, the summer heat is no joke. If your upcoming season includes training or playing outdoors, it is important you slowly acclimate to the heat. Outdoor workouts should start well before official practice begins outside.
Boehmer says, “It takes 7-14 days for your body to acclimate to the heat. If you don’t take the time to let your body adjust, you could become overheated.”
Symptoms of heat-related illness include:
- Excessive sweating
- Excessive thirst
Heat exhaustion or heat stroke requires immediate attention and can be serious or even life-threatening.
Dr. Miller recommends getting baseline aerobic conditioning indoors before transitioning outside and making sure outdoor workouts don’t occur during the day’s peak heat. He suggests that if you are allowed, contact your coach for a workout schedule to get started on before official practice begins.
Make an appointment today
If you are interested in learning more about how to get ready for the upcoming sports season, call the St. Elizabeth Sports Medicine department at (859) 212-5600.