The spring season is an exciting time for athletes and sports fans alike. Many teams are starting to get back into practices and games, and winter sports are beginning their exciting playoff season. For individuals who don’t play competitively, the spring season is still the perfect time to get outside again and enjoying some physical activity.
Some of the most common spring sports for kids include soccer, track and field, baseball, field hockey, and lacrosse. Not all schools offer these programs, but there are lots of inner-city clubs and teams that are quickly gaining interest from young athletes across the United States.
As sports and physical activity become more and more prominent in the daily lives of individuals young and old, it’s important that everyone involved knows how to perform their sports safely. Some of the most common spring sports injuries include Achilles tendonitis, patellar tendinitis, shin splints, tennis elbow, and lower back pain.
If you’re looking forward to playing some spring sports this year, it’s a good idea to prepare ahead of time for injury prevention. The following are 10 effective ways to prevent injuries in spring sports, so athletes will be able to enjoy their entire season injury-free.
Book a Pre-Season Physical Exam
For individuals who will be playing high-level sports and activities, booking a pre-season physical exam is a very good idea. Some programs will require all of their athletes to have an exam ahead of time, but other athletes will have to make the decision at their own discretion.
Having a physical exam before the spring sports season starts will help ensure athletes that they are healthy and ready to participate or it will address any possible problems at hand. This kind of exam is easily to arrange and should be considered by all athletes as a necessary step for an injury-free season.
Integrate Pre-Season Conditioning
Most athletes know that it’s just as important to stay in shape throughout the year to maintain physical conditioning. Some of the pre-season conditioning activities that athletes can adopt include cardiovascular training, flexibility training, and resistance training.
Cardiovascular training will help to maintain aerobic fitness, and it is often achieved by performing sports outside of your regular regimen. Resistance training will help to improve very specific muscle groups, and flexibility exercises will help to ease stiffness, increase balance, and regenerate muscles before the spring season begins.
Invest in Updated Protective Gear
Many sports injuries occur as a result of not wearing protective gear or wearing outdated or compromised gear. Some of the most common items include knee and elbow pads, helmets, and wrist guards.
Each season, athletes should examine all of their equipment, making sure that every piece is in good shape and fits properly. Wearing protective gear that is the wrong size can actually cause injury instead of preventing it.
For parents, it is imperative to invest in the proper gear for young athletes. If you’re not sure what kinds of items to purchase, consider researching the most common injuries in their sport or speak to their coach about the necessary protective requirements.
Consider Protective Braces
Some people assume that braces are only worn by people who have injuries; however, this is simply not the case. While quality sports braces can be worn by those healing from an injury, they can also be worn by any athlete who is looking to protect a specific area.
Braces can help to prevent injuries in spring sports because they’re designed to add extra protection and support around specific areas. Depending on the design you choose, a brace may help to increase or decrease mobility, add extra heat and warmth to sore areas, or guide the body to use proper form. A lot of braces help alleviate pain, improve performance and increase stability, including braces for the knees, back, shoulders, wrists, and ankles.
If you’re not sure what kind of bracing is right for you, it’s a good idea to speak with a sports or family doctor. Choosing a brace can be difficult when you don’t know what you’re looking for, and a doctor will be able to guide you toward the right design and performance for your needs.
Integrate Warm Ups and Cool Downs
Warming up and cooling down are two of the most underrated practices in spring sports. In fact, if you don’t warm up or cool down, it can mean disaster for proper performance and cause injuries to occur.
Warming up is crucial to prepare the body for performing. Before you take the field, gets the blood pumping and the heart working harder with a 5-10 minute warm up. Muscles that are cold or tired have a much higher likelihood of being pulled and strained, so it’s a very good idea to adopt a thorough warm-up routine to avoid injury.
A cool down period is also important to proper physical activity, as it helps to bring the heart rate and body temperature back to normal Some exercises for a cool down include stretching, light jogging, and even meditation.
Avoid Playing When Tired, Weak or Injured
It’s no surprise that athletes are pushing themselves harder than ever, in today’s competitive sports. For many athletes, the pressure to perform is greater than the need to recover, and this is often the reason that many athletes end up injured for the rest of their spring season.
A body that is exhausted, weak, or malnourished is a sign for athletes to take a break from their spring sports in order to recuperate and let the body rest. It can be very unsafe to push the body too far, and it’s very important for athletes to be honest with themselves about how their bodies feel. A person with a tired body is liable to make mistakes, be slack in posture, or to skip important steps in warm up or cool down exercises.
For coaches, it is imperative that athletes feel as though they can be open and honest about their concerns when it comes to their performance. Being aware of players and how they’re behaving in practice or games will be a strong indicator of how they’re feeling physically. It is important to stay diligent and aware of an athlete’s normal behavior so that it becomes obvious if they are tired, weak, or injured.
Embrace a Healthy Diet
Athletes may not know it, but what they put into their bodies has a lot to do with how well they perform in their spring sports on a daily basis. A body that is provided with the proper daily nutrition will be getting the right amount of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and calories.
Athletes who intake too little or too much in their diet can be in trouble when it comes to injuries and performance, so it’s important that they recognize what their body needs at all times. Some of these components include their body weight, daily activities, and any prior illnesses.
Nutritional imbalance is one of the main reasons that athletes incur frequent injuries. Getting the proper vitamins and nutrients can help reverse these issues, so speaking with a nutritionist about what to eat and drink can be very helpful in avoiding injury in the future.
There is a variety of superfoods that are great for the body, which can help the body maintain a healthy balance. Some of these superfoods include ginger, fish oil, nuts, vegetables, greens, seeds, and proteins. For athletes who struggle to meet their daily nutritional needs, it may be an option to take supplements and vitamins as a substitute, but it’s a good idea to speak with a doctor ahead of time before making any decisions.
Drink Lots of Water
One of the best ways to avoid injury is to make sure that the players are drinking plenty of water. It might seem like an easy solution, but staying hydrated can really help avoid illnesses and injuries in athletes. Because the body is made up of such a large amount of water, forgetting to re-hydrate can cause lots of problems, including cramps, tight muscles, and fatigue.
Water is important to the proper functioning of joints, blood vessels, and muscles, and it helps to improve balance, coordination, and performance. As the weather starts to get warmer during spring sports, that’s another reason to increase your water intake.
Athletes should always have water accessible during practices and games, and it’s even important to continue to have water throughout the day even when you’re not participating in a sports activity.
Using Proper Technique
Athletes who perform sports moves with an incorrect technique are much more likely to injure themselves than those who pay attention to correct posture and movement. This rings true for all sports, as the athletes who refrain from learning the right technique run the risk of forcing their muscles and joints into dangerous positions.
If an athlete is new to the sport, it is important that they get the proper training from a coach ahead of time. Whether it’s learning how to kick a soccer ball, bump a volleyball, or jump a hurdle, having the proper technique is vital to avoiding injuries.
For many spring sports such as gymnastics and track and field, one-on-one coaching throughout practice is crucial to safe performance. Some sports might be easier to master than others, but it is up to athletes and their coaches to recognize that the players are using good form.
Take Time Off
Some athletes practice every day of the week, and others will only play once or twice a month. Depending on the level of competition, some athletes will be required to train harder or more often, which can result in poor performance and injury.
Taking time off is a very important part of staying healthy and avoiding injury. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a long break; a day or two each week might be all it takes to bring the body back to peak performance. However, it is important to remember that pushing the body too hard too often can do more harm than good, so athletes should be aware of their schedules and when it’s time to take a day off.
Preventing injury can be very simple if athletes are smart about their daily habits and their well- being. Whether an individual is just starting a new sport or they’re performing in the Olympics, all of these practices should be implemented to ensure a safe and injury-free season. If an athlete is worried about a possible injury, they should discuss it with their coaches and doctors so that a plan can be implemented ahead of time.
Athletes who are looking forward to enjoying a full season of their favorite sport should consider these tips all year long, in order to keep their bodies strong and safe in every sport they play.