“Despite the winter weather, training for spring sports will begin soon. What can athletes do now to gear up for the season and help prevent injury?”
Dr. Dumont says: “As with anything, preparation is key when gearing up for an upcoming sports season. Proper conditioning can help athletes avoid injury while playing organized sports.
“I recommend conditioning with your teammates and coaches, or even on your own, before the season begins. Whether training with a group or individually, there are basic guidelines to follow. Because you may not be at the same fitness level as the end of the previous season, start slowly and increase the duration of your workouts to boost endurance. Focus on gaining muscle, strength and agility during the offseason and maintaining it as the season progresses.
“Start each training session with a proper warmup – one that increases your heartrate – and keep moving during the conditioning session to work on your flexibility. Focus on core strengthening, since it is important for all sports, and cross-train your muscles. For instance, if your leg muscles are sore from a day of legwork, train your upper body during the next conditioning session.
“Pay attention to your body’s signals while training, drinking water when thirsty and pushing through soreness, but never sharp pain. End each conditioning session with cool-down movements that include plenty of stretching, as you are less likely to pull a muscle when stretching after activity.
“Mild pain that occurs from training sessions can generally be controlled with self-help measures. Rest, topical ointments and the use of over-the-counter medications – such as aspirin and ibuprofen – are usually effective in treating mild pain. Consult a physician if pain becomes more severe or persistent, if it occurs when you are not involved in an activity, or if it awakens you from sleep.”
Anna M. Dumont, DO, is a fellowship-trained primary care sports medicine physician at Tri Rivers and a team physician for Mars High School football. She treats acute and chronic injuries, including soft tissue injuries; fractures, sprains and strains; and juvenile back pain. She provides concussion care, including baseline and post-concussion ImPACT® testing; and osteoporosis care and management.