The start of the school year is drawing closer, and although we don’t know what the school or athletic landscape will look like in the face of COVID-19, we want to prepare for the possibility that there will be sports this fall. So whether you’re gearing up for football season or playing in a slow pitch softball league this fall, we want to share some tips for helping you avoid injuries as you gear up for physical activity.
Safely Preparing For Fall Sports
Now more than ever, it’s important to keep these tips in mind because the pandemic has likely limited your ability to stay in “game shape.” Even if you don’t participate in a sport during the summer, odds are you’ve been less physically active due to COVID-19, so you need to be smart as you ramp up your workload as the season nears. Here’s a look at what you’ll want to do:
Slowly Ramp Up Activity – Don’t wait until a week before the season, or worse, the first day or practice or tryouts, to start working your way back into game shape. Going from limited activity to the full impact of a practice or game will put a lot of stress on your body, and this is one of the most common sources of injuries. You wouldn’t try to run a marathon without training, so don’t try to jump into full athletic activity without preparing your body weeks in advance. If you’re going to play a fall sport, now is the time to start a weightlifting or running routine to gradually get your body ready for the rigors of your sport.
Cross Train – Another way to get your body ready for the physical activity of a sport is to do some cross training in the weeks leading up to the season’s start. Sport-focused training is great, but you also want to develop some muscle groups that may get overlooked. Consider working on your core one day, your legs the next, and your upper body the following workout so that your muscle groups can develop evenly. Overdeveloped and underdeveloped muscle groups, or heavy imbalances between areas like hamstrings and glutes are common sources of muscle strains and tears, so work in some cross training.
Check Your Equipment – If you play a sport that’s only during the fall, make sure you check your equipment before gearing up this season. Don’t assume that your gear will fit the same as it did last year. Check for holes or damage to your shoes, gloves and pads, and make sure you replace anything that no longer fits!
Hydrate – You may have already begun contact practice, or maybe it’s starting up in a couple weeks, but either way, know that it’s still going to be quite hot in August and September. You’ll be losing fluids at a faster rate, so you’ll need to replenish liquids regularly. If you don’t, you’ll be at a heightened risk for muscle spasms and strains. Drink plenty of water during athletic activity to avoid problems caused by dehydration.