With spring sports fully underway, it is important to devote some time to maintaining your fitness and staying healthy through the season. Below are my top 3 tips.
- Maintain your strength by shifting to an in-season lifting program.This usually entails decreasing the frequency and intensity of lifts, to focus on strength maintenance and injury prevention. Additionally, you can keep your cardiovascular conditioning up by performing 1-2 workouts per week of running, swimming, biking, or any other type of aerobic exercise.
- Focus on proper hydration and diet. Another contributing factor to overuse injuries is improper diet and hydration – water and nutrients are the building blocks that your body uses to rebuild itself. If there is an imbalance, this can lead to tissue breakdown. Prioritize water consumption not only during practices and games, but also throughout the day to keep a constant hydration level. Emphasize whole foods with a good mix of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. If necessary, seek some advice from a sports nutritionist.
- Warm up before every practice and game. Practicing or playing without warming up is a recipe for injury. A good dynamic warm up takes 5-10 minutes and involves exercises to get your blood flowing (jumping jacks, walking lunges, squats, etc.) and promote flexibility (butt kicks, knee grabs, high knees, tin soldier’s). You should be sweating after the warm up. In the warm up you can also mix in some easy exercises for ACL injury prevention. Evidence shows that performing even just 15 minutes of targeted training before practices can decrease the risk of an ACL injury.
If you get injured, be sure to immediately rest and ice the affected area and schedule a visit with a physical therapist to evaluate the injury and get back to your sport quickly!