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How to Keep Your High School Athlete Injury Free

Posted by Johnson Memorial Health on Jan 27, 2015 10:00:00 AM

As a parent, one of your top priorities is keeping your children safe. And yet, reality is that you can't protect them from every potential injury, especially if they are involved in athletics. Injuries are all too common among high school athletes - lower back pain from playing football or a twisted ankle from a misstep in track.

But there are some things that you can do to help prevent these injuries. Here are a few ways to keep your high school athlete injury free.

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Train well

Athletes can reduce injuries by strengthening all of their muscles and adopting a daily training program designed to optimize performance and minimize the chance of injuries. Overuse injuries occur when athletes increase the frequency, duration, intensity or resistance of training too rapidly, putting too much stress on one part of the body. Consistent exercise, strength training, and cross-training can boost energy, keep muscles in shape and help prevent injury. Before any workout, athletes should warm up their muscles with stretching and light aerobic exercises. Afterward, it's important to cool down with walking and more stretching.

Strengthen weak muscles

Exercise and resistance programs that are different from a student’s usual sport and normal routine are highly beneficial. Strengthening weak muscles is key to preventing most common injuries in sports, like a swimmer’s shoulder, tennis elbow, runner’s knee, achilles tendonitis, or shin splints. Variability in training improves strength, power, and agility, while decreasing the repetitive stress on one or two body parts that are constantly worked. For example, a runner training for an upcoming meet could benefit from swimming once a week to decrease stress on their legs.

Aerobic exercise

Incorporating vigorous aerobic exercise improves the body’s ability to handle physical exertion in any sport. Varying the intensity, duration, and frequency of aerobic exercise — challenging on one day, then lighter on another — especially on days of hard workouts in the primary sport. It's important to increase the heart rate for at least 10 minutes at a time and perform jump routines and pivoting exercises, taking it slowly at first then gradually increasing the time and intensity.

Nutrition and hydration

To get the most of training, nutrition and hydration are also vital. Consume a properly balanced meal of protein, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, and dairy. Carbohydrates should comprise about 33% of meals, fruits and vegetables 33 %, dairy 15 %, protein 15 %, and fats and sugar no more than 4 %. Athletes should drink plenty of water throughout the day, every day; hydration is not something that should just occur the night before a big game. It's healthy to make a habit of drinking at least 16 ounces of water 2 hours prior to exercising. Throughout practice, water should be consumed about every 15 to 20 minutes to keep your body hydrated.

Take steps today toward an injury-free year by exercising regularly, making conditioning a priority, and making smart food choices.  

Johnson Memorial Hospital Outpatient Rehab Center

Topics: Sports