With school back in full swing, youth athletes across the country have already begun their fall sports season. Football, soccer and volleyball are favorite fall sports and in 2011 sports-related injuries for those three sports sent 413,620, 163,003, and 55,860 athletes respectively to seek medical help. As the weather gets crisper and the days get shorter it’s important to remind sports parents, coaches and the athletes themselves about what they can do this fall sports season to stay healthy and safe.
Here are 4 fall sports safety tips:
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
It’s easy to tell when you’re thirsty and hot in the summer. And sweating buckets is usually a pretty good reminder that you need to drink more water! But did you know that colder weather can actually increase the risk of dehydration? In 2005, a study conducted at the University of New Hampshire found that colder weather typically makes people feel less thirsty, which in turn increases their risk for becoming dehydrated. Even though you may be working and sweating just as hard during a fall sport as a summer sport, because you don’t feel as hot you don’t feel as thirsty so you don’t hydrate like you should. The study found that the “thirst sensation” was decreased by as much as 40%!
Get a pre-season physical examination.
Most high schools require their athletes to get a pre-season sports physical before they are allowed to step foot on the field, but not all community youth leagues have the same requirement. A sports physical is a great way to check for any pre-existing conditions that might result in serious injury or even death, such as sudden cardiac arrest.
Start slow if you’ve taken it easy all summer.
Cross country is a big fall sport, but if you haven’t been running all summer don’t expect to pick up where you left off last season! While there is nothing wrong with taking a season off to recoup and recover or play another sport, keep in mind that your body will need time to get back into peak performance shape. If you push yourself too hard too fast you’re much more likely to hurt yourself before the season even really gets underway. No one wants to feel like they are letting their team not or not performing their best, but you can’t help your team at all from the sidelines!
Focus on food and nutrition.
For youth athletes that go to school all day and head straight to practice afterwards, eating right can get very complicated. As tempting as it may be to rely on fast food because it’s quick at easy, keep in mind that without the right nutrition your youth athlete isn’t going to be able to give it their all! Be sure to pack them a well-balanced lunch, as well as a healthy afternoon snack to keep them fueled for practice.