If you think the holidays are a busy season you should trade places with a high school athlete who is juggling their studies, family life, and multiple competitive sports. The transition from fall to winter sports can be overwhelming. For many high school athletes they play a fall sport such as football and then transition right into the next sport during the winter season. These athletes are showcasing their versatile athletic abilities as well as learning valuable life skills such as time-management skills, discipline and commitment.
Even though many young athletes think they are invincible, it is important to prepare them and their growing bodies for the rigors of changing sports and using new muscles in order to prevent injuries.
As a physician at Emory Sports Medicine, I recommend the following:
- Take a short mental break for a few days to ensure your mind is ready to begin the rigors of a new sport and intense practice sessions. Many injuries occur when a student athlete is being careless and not following the coaches instructions.
- Build a strong cardiovascular base by running, biking or doing other cardio exercises at least 2 times a week year round. The amount of cardio workouts you need to do is dependent upon the sport you play.
- Build Core Strength by doing some simple core exercises such as crunches and planks.
- Make sure the athlete has the proper footwear for the sport. Transitioning from football cleats to basketball shoes can be a big adjustment. The transition in surface (outdoor grass to wood floor) can in some cases lead to shin splints. Proper shoes along with stretching can help prevent this from happening.
- Maintain proper nutrition all year round – in-season as well as off-season.. Although having a balanced diet is most important, all young athletes should make sure to eat a size appropriate amount of complex carbohydrates when participating in cardio intense sports. Doing so will ensure enough energy is present during the times when they are most needed!
Ensure your young athlete is ready to hit the ground running in winter sports by sharing these words of wisdom with them!
Brandon Mines, MD, is an assistant professor of orthopaedics. Dr. Mines started practicing at Emory in 2005 after completing his Sports Medicine Fellowship at University of California – Los Angeles. Dr. Mines is board certified in both family practice and sports medicine. He has focused his clinical interest on sports injuries and conditions of the shoulder, elbow, wrist/hand, knee, foot and ankle. He is head team physician for the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) Atlanta Dream and Decatur High School. He is also one of the team physicians for the Atlanta Falcons. His areas of interest are diagnosis and non-operative management of acute sports injuries, basketball injuries, tennis injuries, golf injuries and joint injections.