Whether you are a professional athlete or weekend warrior, getting sidelined from a favorite activity is the worst.
Fortunately, you can lower your risk for acute and chronic sports injuries. Here are eight steps you can take to stay healthy and avoid the bench.
- Follow a training plan
Think of a training plan as a roadmap. A good one will guide you where to focus every day and highlight what you need to do to accomplish your goals. For example, if you are training for a marathon, you might use a 16-week training plan that details how many miles you need to run each day.
- Avoid doing too much, too soon
More is always better, right? Not when it comes to athletic training. It is important to make sure you gradually increase your training load to avoid injuries and burnout. A good rule of thumb is to increase your training load by no more than 10 percent each week.
- Take a rest day
Listen to your body and avoid powering through another workout if you are fatigued, sore or something does not feel right. It is also a good idea to schedule regular rest days into your training plan. For example, every Sunday could be a day to rest and get ready for the next week of training.
- Warm up and cool down
Trying to push your body from 0 to 100 is a surefire way to get injured. Instead, prime your body with a warm-up that includes dynamic stretching and light drills. After your workout, help your body start the recovery process with a cooldown that includes static stretches and light activity, such as walking or slow jogging.
- Vary your routine
Repetitive movements can lead to injury so it is smart to switch your workouts now and then. If you normally run, take a day to swim. If you constantly hit the weight room, consider practicing yoga. In addition to lowering your risk for injury, it can also keep things fun and interesting to avoid burnout.
- Fuel your body
When training, it is especially important to fuel your body with high-quality foods and nutrients. Focus on eating plenty of lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables and healthy fats. Keep in mind, you also need to think about timing. Within an hour after you complete a workout, make sure you eat a high-protein snack.
- Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep helps your body recover from training. Adults should aim for seven to nine hours per night. If you need tips to get more sleep or better-quality sleep, read Eight Tips for Better Sleep.
- Recover between training cycles
Although it is tempting to train hard year-round, your body needs a break between training cycles. Taking these breaks is important to allow your body to fully recover along with helping you mentally reset. For example, after running a marathon, take at least two weeks off from running before jumping back into training.
Get treatment for sports injuries
If you are new to athletics, talk to a sports medicine physician to learn what steps you can take to avoid injury. NorthShore University HealthSystem sports medicine physicians can also help treat sports injuries and help people get back to their full activity level. To learn more, or make an appointment, visit us online or call 847-570-4792.