Summer sports season is here, and as public health restrictions relax, athletes across San Diego will be heading back to the court, track and field. However, since the pandemic put many sports on pause, it’s prudent for players to take precautions to prevent sports injuries.
“Listen to your body, that’s the key,” says Soroosh Amanat, MD, a family medicine physician with Scripps Coastal Medical Center Eastlake, with a fellowship in sports medicine. “Some people say, ‘No pain, no gain.’ That’s when you get into trouble.”
These tips from Dr. Amanat will help you stay in the game.
You can’t go from the couch to a full marathon without some work. Build up the intensity gradually, especially if you, like many of us, spent the last year mostly inactive. A little soreness is to be expected, but actual pain is a sign you’re overdoing it.
Dr. Amanat recommends a dynamic warm-up rather than static stretching. Lunges, squats and walking knee hugs are great ways to prep your muscles and get your heart rate up before your activity.
“Warm up your entire body for the activity that you’re doing to prevent injuries,” he says. Do the opposite to cool down. Gradually bring down your heart rate with lower-intensity activities and stretch out those tired muscles.
“These are the cornerstones of injury prevention,” says Dr. Amanat. Drink fluids regularly to stave off dehydration, get enough sleep to be well rested and fuel your body with nutritious foods before and after physical activity.
In some sports, like youth soccer for example, periodic breaks are mandatory. No matter your activity of choice, take frequent water and shade breaks on hot days, and be sure to work regular rest days into your training schedule.
Mix in different sports or activities that utilize different muscles. If you’re a runner, try swimming, or occasionally swap a tennis match for a bike ride.
“Try to not focus on just one activity,” Dr. Amanat says, “because repetitively putting stress on the same muscles and joints can potentially make you prone to injury.”
This content appeared in San Diego Health, a publication in partnership between Scripps and San Diego Magazine that celebrates the healthy spirit of San Diego.