Ready or not, school is starting back up soon, which also means it's time for sports! It's important to understand how to stay healthy as the school year begins. As a Physical Therapist, I tend to see a huge jump in injuries around this time of year. From my experience, I have narrowed it down to a few reasons:
Athletes are coming off relaxing summers and jumping right back into high intensity activities for their sport in a short period of time.
Busy schedules leaving less time for recovery. School till 3, homework till 5 and dance till 10… when does that leave time for anything else!?
Again, I am just speaking from experience on this, but all of these things can absolutely contribute to higher levels of pain and injuries. Here are a few easy tips to stay physically and mentally healthy as you dive into your school year...
1. Schedule in rest days
I 100% recognize this is difficult to do, especially when you are on someone else’s schedule, but you have to get some rest in when you can. Have a Sunday off from sports? Perfect. Use it as REST! I promise you won’t end up falling behind, but will actually get ahead because your body will be recharged and ready to go for the week. Parents- force your kids to take a rest day and recognize how important it is for them!! With hectic schedules, it’s easy to forget to schedule in rest days, but they are crucial for recovery (and your sanity).
2. Eat well and stay hydrated
I will preface this by saying I am not a nutritionist, so if you truly need some personal advice on this find a sports nutritionist in your area to work with. As schedules get crazy, it can be all to easy to pull through that drive-thu on the way home for dinner. Once and awhile, I totally get it. BUT if you are surviving your sports season on Chick-fil-a nuggets and McDonalds Fries…. We have a problem. You need to fuel your body for performance. My suggestion- meal prep for the week. Yes, this absolutely takes some extra and planning but it is so worth it in the end. Getting the nutrients you need will leave you feeling more energetic, mentally sharp for school and help you recover quicker between practices/game days.
3. Know when to ice versus heat an injury
This can totally affect your ability to heal an injury and is really important to understand when you are in athletics. The quick version-- Ice will help inflammation/swelling and heat will make it worse. Anytime you sustain a new injury, the sooner you get ice on it, the better. To download my full heat vs ice guide for a quick reference to have on hand.
4. Know when to seek help
Parents- this is especially important for you. How do you know if you should wait it out versus go to the doctor? Sometimes it is easier to tell than others. Certainly, when you are in enough pain that you can’t walk or stand it makes sense to see a doctor. But what if it isn’t really all that painful and you can technically still play your sport? My best advice is to use the people around you to your advantage. Your school’s athletic trainer is a great resource and can guide you in the right direction. Also, go see a Physical Therapist! In Virginia you do not need a prescription to initially see a PT, so they will be able to assess you and give you the best suggestions for what to do next. The worst thing you can do is wait it out. Not only are you prolonging the healing, but you are also risking suffering an even bigger injury.
5. Lay off the cross-training
When you are in-season, it is not the time to be working on getting bigger, stronger and faster. You need to focus on competition and refining your technical skills. Adding in high intensity cross training will only add to your fatigue level and increased risk of injury.
6. Schedule a pre-season movement screen
It's important to be starting your season off on the right foot, and a movement screen or wellness visit is the perfect way to do that! At On Pointe Wellness, we will do a full body movement assessment to find any potential problem areas that may creep up during the season. From there, we can come up with a plan for dealing with these issues so it doesn't end in injury or time off!!
7. HAVE FUN!!!
I can't stress this enough!! Don’t let the stress of a sport take over the fun side of it. I know it’s easy to get wrapped up in the rat race of a busy school year, but it's just not worth it. I am a firm believer that stress has a direct impact on pain level and injury, so just slow down and enjoy the moment. Someday, you will miss the days of playing sports with your best friends :-)
Interested in setting up a PRE-SEASON WELLNESS VISIT with me!? Click Here
Is scheduling an issue? Not anymore! I now offer VIRTUAL MOVEMENT ASSESSMENTS!! That means you can work with me from the comfort of your own home whenever time allows it.