Students playing soccer
High School Wellness

Preparing Student Athletes for Fall Sports

As the fall sports seasons draw near, now is a good time for young athletes to get ready for their upcoming physical activity. Students are less likely to suffer from injuries in their season by preparing their bodies now.

Bayhealth Sports Medicine Supervisor Stacy Trice, PT, SCS, ATC, says the most common injuries athletic trainers see in fall sports are ankle sprains, muscle strains, concussions, and contusions. There are many injuries, like muscle strains and tendonitis conditions, that can be minimized with preventive exercise. Trice recommends athletes take a proactive approach. “Most coaches provide athletes a summer workout routine to follow so they’re physically prepared when fall sports come along,” Trice said. “When students don’t do these routines, they come back and we see a lot of strained quads and hamstrings.” Trice is one of the athletic trainers from Bayhealth that works with local high school sports teams.

For students who haven’t done training or workouts throughout the summer, there are still things they can do to prepare for the preseason. Trice recommends stretching, doing cardio, strength and conditioning, and endurance exercises. Staying hydrated and eating right are also vital. “It’s important to eat something in the morning so you’re not out on the field for a few hours without having eaten. Then make sure you eat something again during the day,” Trice said. “Good hydration should also be done before, during and after exercise. Otherwise, you could suffer from a heat-related illness. I always tell the athletes to practice good nutrition and hydration. Your body is like a machine, and you have to properly put gas and fuel in to have it work in an optimal manner.”

If an athlete is injured at a preseason practice or in-season game, it’s important to understand the difference between what is typical soreness and a potential injury. It’s normal for an athlete to have muscle soreness when returning to practice. This soreness comes on progressively over a couple of days, whereas a strained muscle is an instant pain that gets worse. If an athlete is hurt at practice, they should consult with the athletic trainers such as Trice.

Sometimes an injured athlete will recover with ice and rest after a couple of days. In other instances, the player’s level of play may need to be modified longer than that to prevent further injury and ensure the athlete returns to their highest potential. As the athletic trainer at the local schools, Trice says she’ll have conversations with the parents and the school nurse on how to monitor the athlete and their injury. If needed, she’ll consult with an orthopaedist. “Athletic trainers are the first line of defense when a player is hurt. We assess the injury and determine the best way to move forward,” she said.

Visit Bayhealth's Sports Medicine page for more information on the services provided by the Bayhealth Outpatient Therapy department. If you’re in need of a physician, find one at Bayhealth's Find a Physician page or call 1-866-BAY-DOCS (3627).

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