Student-athletes are already back on the field as they get ready to start the fall season. Athletic trainers with Intermountain Healthcare want to remind athletes and their parents how to stay safe and avoid injuries as they prepare for the upcoming season.
For many athletes stretching and hydration seem like obvious areas of focus, but nutrition and properly taking care of injuries can be major factors in performance, as well as the athletes’ overall health history.
This time of year, hydration and avoiding heat illness are a big concern with higher temperatures.
These problems can be exacerbated depending on the playing field because artificial turf and concrete have higher surface temperatures than grass. Athletes are encouraged to drink lots of water and sports drinks to stay hydrated, but also need to take more breaks while competing.
Clint Edvalson, ATC, who is a certified athletic trainer with Intermountain Healthcare at TOSH–The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital, and who provides medical support for prep athletes during practices and games, says one of the most overlooked issues he sees for athlete health is nutrition. He says a balanced diet taken at the correct times can make all the difference in performance.
“Eating fruits and vegetables can help keep athletes hydrated, but it’s also important to be consuming the right proteins and carbohydrates for energy,” said Edvalson. “At this age, kids eat what they want with few consequences, but they may not realize the impacts it’s having on their performance.”
For example, trainers encourage their athletes to eat something with sodium after practice or a game so they can better retain the water they’re drinking. They say athletes should also avoid fatty and greasy foods at least two hours before competing.
With COVID-19 still, a factor going into this season athletic trainers are keeping an eye on anyone who is ill or who has contracted the virus.
Experts warn anyone who has contracted COVID-19 and had symptoms should take extra precautions before exerting themselves. COVID attacks the lungs and can have a negative impact on athletes if they aren’t careful.
Intermountain recommends any athletes who had symptomatic COVID-19 should inform their coaches and athletic trainer so they are aware and can watch for issues.
Athletes who had severe symptoms or hospitalization should consult their doctor before beginning sports. COVID can impact the heart in young athletes and a physician may recommend certain tests before a student is good to return to sports.
For more information on Intermountain Healthcare’s sports medicine programs click here.