You and your kids may have spent lazy days by the pool or lounging on the couch in cool, air-conditioned homes this summer. Sounds great, right? Until it’s time for those student-athletes of yours to hit the field again in top sports shape.
Student athletes need to be prepared to hit the ground running when they return to fall practices, and coaches have limited time to educate and condition them. However, there are steps runners and players can take – and parents can oversee – to ensure they are ready for the rigor of practices and games and avoid injuries.
Joel Buffum of Memorial’s Sports Medicine Advantage offers some tips to be sports-ready this fall.
What kind of exercise should they start with to gear up for practices and games?
Start with some easy aerobic exercises and work up to interval work or independent drills that condition the body to sweat early and cool the body. Adjust activities to prepare for the sport; sitting during the summer can be as restrictive as sitting during the school day. Muscles that are not prepped to elongate for running or sprinting activities are at higher risk for musculoskeletal injury. This means that stretching can help prevent the first strain or sprain of the school year.
It’s still hot outside. What steps should they be taking to protect themselves from the heat?
Drink water throughout the day! Chugging water before practice isn’t comfortable, effective or safe. Drink water throughout the day and don’t supplement water intake with sugary drinks.
Also, while it’s unlikely that heat exhaustion will be a problem, it’s important to recognize the signs so that it doesn’t become a medical issue:
- excessive sweating
- extreme thirst
- muscle cramps
- light headedness.
It’s important to cool these individuals as quickly as possible. Get them into an air conditioned place or the shade, provide plenty of cool liquids, and apply cool towels to try to lower their body temperature.
If athletes ease into a sports routine before the season even starts, they’re less likely to have issues later. A good hydration guide and other tips and recommendations for staying healthy in the heat can be found online at www.yakimamemorial.org/sportsmedicine.