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As youth are getting back into their sports many are feeling the effects of the extended break, here are a few tips to help you and your athletes safely resume the sports you enjoy!
A gradual increase to reacclimate the heart, lungs, and body to increased activity
Don’t try to pick right back up at the level you last played. For many, this time off was the longest break their bodies have experienced. It will take a few weeks to months to build up your endurance again. Be patient with your body and don’t overdo it. You may notice more aches and pains doing simple things that used to be common activities so take breaks, stretch a little more and try again. Your body just needs a little time to reacclimate to the increased demands.
Proper sport-specific warm-up and stretching
Part of retraining your muscles for sports is getting a good warm-up that utilizes the muscles you’ll be using while doing that sport. Ex: soccer players need to work up to sprints and practice kicking a soccer ball with increased force to warm up hip and groin muscles to avoid the hip & groin pulls so common in soccer players. While overhead athletes such as tennis players will need to incorporate more racket work and dynamic upper body stretches in their warm-up.
An ideal warm-up should raise your heart rate and muscle temperature to get them ready to perform. You should be warm, sweating and a little short of breath if done properly. This will maximize the benefit of stretching. & be sure to stretch before and after each practice or workout.
Proper hydration is key when resuming athletics. Being away from the sport you may not be in the habit of drinking the water your body needs to perform at it’s best. Especially in the heat and after an extended break set yourself up for success by being well hydrated and properly fueled.
Performance declines with as little as 2 to 3 percent decrease in body weight from water (sweat) loss
A good rule of thumb for the amount of water you need a day is half your body weight in ounces. (160lb person needs about 80oz of water daily. 160/2=80)
During exercise drink 4 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes (2 to 3 large gulps)
Seek a professional for pain that didn’t improve!
Perhaps you or your athlete had an injury last fall or spring that flared back up despite the extended break. Injuries that didn’t improve with time away are often due to muscle imbalances or improper biomechanics and would benefit from a specialty evaluation. A sports medicine physician can help determine the root cause of the injury and recommend the appropriate treatment.
Dr. Amelia J Wiggins
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