While there has been a lot of focus around COVID-19 safety protocols for Ohio athletes this year, it’s important to remember that other safety precautions continue to be important for preventing sports injuries, as well. Adjusting to the “new normal” shouldn’t mean forgetting the key elements of preparedness that coaches and trainers have emphasized for years.
Mike Marston is the head of our Athletic Training team at Southeastern Med. He’s created a helpful checklist (below) of things to consider as we head into the spring sports season. Most of these suggestions and guidelines are easy to implement and can help athletes of any age to compete at their highest level, while reducing their risk of landing on the sideline.
- Check Equipment–By checking if your shoes and other equipment fit and are in good working order, many injuries from blisters to broken bones can be prevented.
- Start Slow—Whether spring athletes played a winter sport or not, the transition into a new sport requires a slow and gradual increase in training. This prevents the overuse injuries later in the season.
- Technique–Focusing on proper technique, whether throwing a baseball or jumping a hurdle, will greatly reduce injuries throughout the season. It’s the responsibility of coaches to be sure they’re teaching proper technique and vital for athletes to appreciate the value of good technique not just for better performance, but long-term health.
- Warm-up & Cool Down–Preparing the body for exercise by performing a warm-up routine consisting of light exercise and stretching and ending exercise with a similar routine can decrease the likelihood of injuries.
- Eat & Sleep Right–Eating a balanced diet will provide the resources for the body to rebuild and repair. Adequate sleep provides time for the body to repair and restore for the next day’s activity. For kids and teens, it’s not always easy to maintain consistency in these two categories. However, shorting either one can set an athlete down a path to injury.
- Hydrate–Proper hydration is critically important for the health of an athlete. Dehydration not only increases the risk of injury but also reduces performance levels of an athlete. As the spring heats up, the risk of heat related illness increases, especially without proper hydration. Athletes should hydrate before, during and after exercise. With social distancing being a priority, it’s a smart idea to bring your own water bottle.
Of course, even the most prepared and safety conscious athletes in the world can suffer an injury. Luckily, if you or a loved one is hurt playing a sport, you don’t need to travel far from home to get the expertise you need. Whether it’s Athletic Training, Physical Therapy, or Orthopedic care, Southeastern Med has you covered.