Summer vacation is upon us; time to relax, sleep-in, go on vacation, and, yes, begin training for fall sports! Here is som great advice from Dr. Amelia Wiggins, an orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Mercy Health who treats a variety of athletic injuries:
A break from sports is vital, because it allows your body to recover from nagging injuries; however, you should not ignore your fitness and training all summer long. Staying active during the off-season ensures you are prepared to participate in fall sports and remain injury free. Many injuries I see as a sports surgeon can be prevented with regular conditioning before the sports season starts. Injuries often occur when athletes suddenly increase the duration, intensity, or frequency of their activity.
To avoid injury, I recommend a balanced fitness program that incorporates aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility during the off-season. Ask your coach or athletic trainer for a program that will help you be better prepared for the fall season.
Don’t lose all your hard-earned fitness and start from the bottom when September comes. Start the fall sports season with a well-developed skill and fitness level!
Summer training tips to stay strong and healthy:
- Warm up and stretch. Always take time to warm up and stretch, especially your hips, knees, thighs and calves. Research studies have shown that cold muscles are more prone to injury. Warm up with jumping jacks, running, or walking in place for 3 to 5 minutes. Then slowly and gently stretch, holding each stretch for 30 seconds.
- Cool down and stretch. Stretching at the end of a training session is often neglected because of busy schedules. Take advantage of the lighter summer load and stretch to help reduce your risk for injury.
- Hydrate. Dehydration happens fast in the summer heat and can be dangerous. General recommendations include: 24 ounces of non-caffeinated fluid 2 hours before exercise, an additional 8 ounces of water or sports drink right before exercise, and break for an 8 oz. cup of water every 20 minutes.