Injury Prevention for High School Athletes

Injury+Prevention+for+High+School+Athletes

Meena Meiyyappan, Contributing Writer, Fremont CA

As a high school athlete, I know that our lives are very busy. Balancing school, home, and social life is often quite difficult. I’ve been an athlete for almost 11 years now. For as long as I can remember, I tried to be the healthiest I could possibly be. I ate healthy, drank lots of water and never really stressed out over anything too much. That seemed to work for me until my sophomore year of high school. That year, I suffered an overuse back injury which forced me to sit out for a few months. Initially, I was unsure of where I was going wrong. I didn’t get injured because of a one time accident. This was something that was building up over time and I didn’t bother to notice it until it was too late. Eventually, I healed, but as cross country season rolled along, I began to run into multiple more overuse injuries and I was forced to sit out for over six months. I followed what my coaches, trainers, and doctors told me religiously but they could only take me so far. The rest of my health was in my own hands because no one knew my own body better than I did. In this article, I want to share with you guys some of the things I did to recover faster and stay injury free after that!

 

1. SLEEP 

Sleep is one of THE MOST IMPORTANT things an athlete needs. Many high school students struggle to keep up with the workload, but getting at least 7 hours of sleep is crucial. Since the average human body produces the most melatonin from 10pm to 2am, it’s even more important to be in bed at that time. Melatonin helps maintain your body’s circadian rhythm and helps your tissues recover – therefore helps sore muscles heal faster. There were weeks throughout my sophomore and junior year where I would barely get over 5 hours of sleep every day which I can imagine contributed to my injuries quite heavily. 

 

2. Stretching/foam rolling

Stretching and foam rolling before and after practices/workouts are important because they help muscles loosen up. Tight muscles only make room for more injuries. While your muscles are tight, your body puts pressure on other muscles and bones in your body wich aren’t generally used to carrying this increased workload, leading to potential injuries. 

 

3. Strength

At first, I didn’t understand the point of strength. Why would I need to work on my leg strength if I was going to be running at track practice anyways? Doesn’t running strengthen your legs anyways? The answer is yes, but it also puts a crazy amount of pressure on your legs. This can lead to injury if your body is not strong enough to take that pressure. Basic injury prevention strength could be accomplished through a variety of exercises, such as calf raises, goblet squats, or anything that can help increase mobility and movement while still increasing strength. 

 

4. Take things slow, learn to listen to your body. 

This is the most important of them all. Take things at your own pace. Sure – you probably want to be the fastest or strongest kid on your team. But that can’t happen if you push yourself to the point of injury. Learn your own limits and learn to listen to your body. That was the principal mistake I made when I was first injured. The first few times I felt pain, I let it slip. I thought it would go away on its own but that only made it worse. Build up your training slowly and take plenty of rest. It’s always best to have a strong base. When I started running for the first time after the injuries, I ran once every three days for a whole month. It was tedious and I hated it most of the time but that’s one of the reasons I’m back and up running as healthy as ever right now!