With spring around the corner, warmer weather on the way, and a plethora of outdoor activities on the horizon, it’s important to begin preparing your body for all of your athletic ambitions so as to avoid injury. As you’re getting out your soccer cleats, bike shorts, ball gloves and tennis racket, consider some of these ways you can prepare yourself to avoid sports injuries this spring & summer:
1. Get checked out by your physical therapist or doctor. Much like you did in high school before your sports season started, get a physical. Discuss with your physical therapist or physician what your sports and activity related plans are so they can help you decide what your next steps for preparation should be. As physical therapists, we can determine what your body’s strengths and weaknesses are and reduce or prevent future injuries.
2. Start training NOW. Start getting your body limber, strong, and ready for athletic action. For example, if you’re signed up for a city league soccer team—regular cardio, running, and stretching will prove to be useful in helping you avoid injury!
3. Start slowly & build gradually. You don’t train to run a marathon in a day, a week, or even a month! Certainly push yourself to your limit, and maybe slightly past it, but don’t push yourself so hard that you injure yourself during your training!
4. Once the season rolls around, and it’s time to clip into your pedals or pick up your racket, be sure to stretch & warm up! Foregoing the warmup period can result in pulled and torn muscles that can take you out for the rest of the season!
5. Invest in the right gear! Start with a good pair of shoes that fits the needs of your sport—AND your foot. For example, if you’re a runner in Seattle, go check out Super Jock ‘N Jill for shoes. They are running shoe experts who can address your specific footwear needs with respect to your feet. This may entail you getting neutral shoes, cushioning shoes, pronation control /stability shoes, or motion control shoes. Don’t run a marathon in basketball shoes, and don’t play a game of basketball in running shoes. Move on from there to the right protective and preventative gear. Helmets, padding, protective eyewear, and braces for weaker joints are a must!
6. As best as possible, make sure your playing area is free of debris. For field, track & court sports, make sure there aren’t any of nature’s hidden booby traps (like sticks) lying in wait for you to trip. As the old adage says: “Sticks and stones can break my bones and then I need physical therapy.”
7. Get hydrated! Your performance can potentially be affected after a mere 2% drop below your proper hydration level! Moreover, dehydration puts you at a much higher risk for other injuries like pulled muscles, injured joints, and heatstroke.
8. Don’t play injured. It’s certainly a bummer when you have to take the bench for an injury—but it is the wisest thing to do when an injury does arise. If you can’t just “walk it off” after a minute or two, that’s a good sign that your body needs more time to repair itself. Don’t risk further or worse injury by “powering through it”!
Now that you’ve got some tips to get going—get out there and make the most of spring & summer!
Featured photo from here.