As an athlete, a healthy body is the key to success within your sport. It is important to know how to prevent injuries and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle that supports the physical demands your sport requires.
Though not all injuries can be prevented, there are things athletes can do to prevent them. Warming up before and after the game has been shown to reduce the likelihood of an injury.
1. Stretching / Warming Up
Our doctors recommend focusing on a dynamic stretch before practicing or playing your sport. A dynamic stretch is different from the traditional static stretch, where you hold a specific post for 30 seconds and then release the pose. A dynamic stretch focuses on stretching in a way our bodies would move naturally in our sport. For instance, if you play soccer, you may want to stretch by doing side squats, hamstring stretches and runners pose. Moving while stretching helps your body prepare for what is to come while also strengthening the muscles.
2. Avoid Playing Multiple Sports Per Year
Our doctors discourage young athletes from playing 2 or 3 sports within the year. We see many growth-related injuries that could have been prevented if the body had time to recover between sports. Athletes may think they are staying in shape by playing multiple sports, but your body actually needs a rest period between the intensity of sports. Find what you love and feel you are best at and stick with it! As a young athlete, it should be about having fun and trying new things, not treating it like a job.
3. Find a Physical Therapist you Trust
Knowing who to go to when injuries do happen is key. A physical therapist can help you with bodywork and prepare you for the season ahead. At MPOWER, our physical therapists focus on education. The more you know about your body and how to act when you start feeling pain, the more successful you will be in the long run. For example, an educated athlete knows that when you start to feel knee pain, you should focus on strengthening your hips and glutes with resistance band exercises and book an appointment with your orthopedist.
Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
Fueling your body with the right diet, supplements, and recovery regime will increase your game both on and off the court! Every athlete is different based on their body, sport and position played. A lineman in football will have different needs than a quarterback, and at MPOWER, we know exactly what it takes for these different kinds of athletes to succeed.
4. Eat a Balanced Diet
Eating healthy will help fuel your body by giving you the energy you need to excel in your sport. We encourage athletes to find a nutrition specialist to develop an eating plan that works for them. Dr. Tiff at MPOWER is experienced in sports psychology and specializes in sports nutrition.
Foods to Include in your Diet as an Athlete
- Foods high in protein (for muscle maintenance and growth)
- Greens- For overall health and mental clarity
- Complex Carbs (sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal)
- Healthy Fats for brain health and to keep you full! (avocados, peanut butter)
5. Know When to Rest
You should have at least one rest day a week as an athlete. It can be hard for our super-motivated athletes to think of rest as productive but giving your body that opportunity lets your muscles recover and actually grow, rather than wearing down that muscle tissue over and over.
If you feel unsure of where to start, form your team of medical professionals by calling MPOWER and we will get you started on your athletic journey together!