Injury Prevention

Too often an athlete’s season is ended or hindered by injury that could have been prevented. It is not only the responsibility of the coach and athletic trainer to prevent injury, but the athlete’s themselves. There are certain steps that can aid an athlete in lowering their chance of injury.

Training and Conditioning 
It is essential that the athlete maintain a consistently high level of fitness during the preseason, the competitive season, and the off-season. A consistently high fitness level not only helps prevents injury, but increases the performance standard of the athlete. It is important to incorporate strength training in the proper way, for example the competitive season is not for building in the weight room, but for maintaining.  

ACL Injury Prevention Program: This includes a 6 week out of season plan and an in-season maintenance warm-up. This program is beneficial for all athletes. 

Upper Body/Throwing Injury Prevention Program: This program is for any upper body intensive sport. It can be done out of season or a few exercises can be chosen from each section as maintenance during the season. This program is beneficial for baseball, softball, tennis, volleyball, and quarterbacks.

Running Injury Prevention Program: This is more focused for track and cross country, but can be adapted for any team that is running intensive. This program is focused on athletes that are new to running distance, runners that take time off (such as the summer) and general strength training for all runners. This program is beneficial for track, cross country, and soccer.

Safe environment & Proper equipment and gear
Weather, playing surface, temperature, and clothing type can all affect the health and performance of an athlete. Be aware that when playing in high temperatures the body cannot sustain a lower temperature easily leading to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Be sure that where practice or play happen the grounds are clean and well kept to avoid any accidents. When the weather is cold or hot the athlete must dress appropriately in order to avoid letting their body become too cold or hot, it really does matter what you wear. Be sure that all gear fits properly and is up to date performing its function. Shoes are extremely important to prevent all sorts of injury. Be sure to buy shoes that are specific for your sport, that fit properly both in the length and width, that form to your foot and help correct any defects, give the proper support, and that are not worn out and old.

Nutrition & Medication
A well balanced diet is the best way to have the fuel necessary to compete at a high level. If the body is not receiving enough vitamins and nutrients from a balanced diet, then supplements can help. When the body does not receive enough of what it needs, a break down in the muscles can happen, which will lead to muscle soreness and cramping. Always consult your physician before taking any over the counter or prescriptive drugs. Medications have a wide variety of side effects that dramatically affect the athlete, such as decreased coordination, increase body temperature, or increasing dehydration. Be aware that medications are needed in certain situations, for example asthma. 

The importance of water replacement cannot be stressed enough in injury prevention. An athlete should always be well hydrated throughout the day. When the body lacks in water it cannot perform properly, can lead to muscular problems, headaches, heat disorders, or dehydration. Gatorade and/or PowerAde can also help hydrate the body while supplying the proper mineral needed for exercise. 

Warm-up & Stretch

The body must be prepared before it can perform. Cold muscles will turn into hurt muscles. Always begin each activity with a proper warm-up incorporated with a stretch together lasting about 15-30 minutes. Without a warm-up the body is at high risk for injury, and the performance level of the athlete will decrease. Always end with a cool down and a stretch to decrease muscle soreness. Remember muscle soreness is not an injury and can be reduced with 
a proper warm-up, cool down, and stretch.

The body will not heal unless it is given time to rest. Injuries need time to heal that is the main factor; without the time needed they will not heal properly. Injuries can occur when the athlete does not get enough sleep, because the athlete is weaker, less coordinated and less emotionally motivated. Always try to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night.