By Dev K. Mishra, M.D.
President, Sideline Sports Doc
Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Stanford University
- The time between the end of your fall sport and the start of your spring sport is an important time to do some “maintenance” on your body
- Take some time off, see a sports medicine specialist if you have nagging issues, and start a conditioning program before spring practices start
There are quite a few high school athletes who have just finished a fall sport and will then have a short time off before practice starts for their spring sport. This is a pretty short amount of down time for the young athlete. And this in turn can lead to an increased risk of injury with possible decrease in sport performance. Ideally, you’d want some time off between sports in which you can do a bit of maintenance work for your body. Here are 3 things I think every young competitive athlete must do in their off-season.
1.You need to take some time off from intense training.
It’s critical for coaches, parents, and players to realize that there needs to be a balance between work and rest. Over training is a huge risk for injury, especially with growing young athletes. You need to be willing to take off at least a few weeks or maybe even a month from intense exercise each year in order to allow your body to rest.
2. See a sports medicine specialist if you have nagging injuries.
Athletes of all ages will commonly put up with injuries towards the end of the season, especially if your team happens to be playing well. If you have ongoing pain or an injury that just hasn’t healed with simple treatment, the off-season is the time to seek specialist care. After a proper diagnosis is made, a plan can be put in place to get you back to peak performance.
3. Start a proper preseason conditioning program prior to your next sport.
Properly designed preseason strength and conditioning programs can dramatically decrease the risk of injuries. “Fitness” needs to begin prior to the 1st day of practice. Many scientific studies have shown that the majority of injuries occur in the 1st few weeks of a sport season, often times due to inadequate preseason preparation. No matter which sport you play it is important to focus on general conditioning and core stability, as well as overall cardiovascular fitness. Cross training during the off-season is especially important if you happen to participate in a predominantly one-sided sport in the spring, such as baseball.
How rapidly can you advance your off-season training? Most sports medicine specialists recommend that young athletes follow a simple 10% rule: don’t increase your weight load, training activity, mileage, or pace by more than 10% each week. This will allow your body an adequate period of time to rest, rebuild and recover after any training session.
Right now it’s snowing, raining, or just downright unpleasant weather in many parts of the country. Use this time to take care of some things you may have neglected during your fall sports season. Do your best on your homework. Help your mom with chores around the house. And take care of your body.