How to train for a better season

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5 MIN READ]

In this article:

  • More than 2 million sports injuries occur every year.

  • It’s safest to follow an exercise program that starts slowly and increases in intensity.

  • It is important to pay attention to signs of overtraining to avoid potential injuries.

The fall months are widely known for the return of many types of sports. Maybe your teenager is playing soccer or maybe you’re getting back into running after taking a break during the sweltering summer. Whatever the sport, it is important to practice it safely.

Each year, Americans live more than 2.2 million sports-related injuries. While some are unavoidable, many can be avoided. The Providence Institute of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine (OSM) is a multi-institutional establishment equipped to guide you in your sports training. Our group of collaborative and knowledgeable experts offers a comprehensive approach to your sporting needs.

“At Providence, we don’t just serve one specific city. We bring together our knowledge and skills to work with athletes, help them develop safe exercise plans and help them return to sport participation safely,” said Breanne Brown, DO, co-president of the OSM. “We are also in a unique position to collaborate with primary care physicians, cardiologists and orthopedists to provide our patients with the best possible level of care and keep them active.”

To help you create a safe and healthy sports training program, Dr. Brown offers some tips on how to get started and some do’s and don’ts. It also explains some signs of overtraining.

Start your training

Even if you or your child are motivated to play a sport, getting started can be the hardest part. Your first step, Dr. Brown says, should be to educate yourself about the activity itself.

“Having some knowledge of the activity and knowing what’s involved in the sport is always important,” she says. “Make sure you or your child are healthy and in good enough physical condition to participate. Pay attention to any physical injuries or other health restrictions.

Additionally, there are some other things you need to keep in mind:

Consult your doctor: Make an appointment with your health care provider before starting any new activity.

“Arrange a visit with your primary health care provider or another doctor who knows you well,” she says. “Ask the right questions before doing any activity to make sure it’s safe for you.”

Discover the sports equipment: Make sure you have the necessary equipment and understand how to use it.

“Your particular sport may require a lot of equipment. Make sure you know how to use it and that it fits well,” she says. “Equipment that doesn’t fit well can potentially harm you or hinder your ability to participate.”

Start – or stick to – healthy habits: Drink enough water, eat healthy and get enough sleep.

Start slow and build

Every time you start a new workout routine — even if you’ve already exercised — it’s important not to overdo it early on, says Dr. Brown.

“Some people, when they start a new sport, just dive into it and do everything. It can be harmful since you might be using new muscles that you’ve never used before,” she says. “Start with a sprint complete is a great way to get injured.”

Instead, she recommends starting slowly and following these steps:

Warm up: With each new activity, stretching is important. If you start an activity that raises your heart rate, walk briskly or jog for 5-10 minutes before playing.

Your pace: Don’t start with the heaviest weights or the longest distance. Start with light, short workouts and add to them over time. For example, if you’re playing soccer, start with short, soft short-range passes and move on to longer-range kicks.

Listen to your coach: If you have a coach, listen to their advice and learn from their experience.

Know the dos and don’ts of training

To stay safe and healthy while working out, there are several things to keep in mind, says Dr. Brown. Remember these tips when exercising:

Do:

Sleep: Getting enough sleep helps your muscles recover after an intense workout. It can also improve your overall athletic performance. You’ll have better reaction times, better accuracy, and a lower risk of injury.

Eat well: Maintain a healthy diet can help fuel your workouts. Be sure to eat a good mix of lean proteins and complex carbohydrates, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Focus on drink enough water during and after your workouts, as well.

Vary your exercises: Give yourself variety. Rather than doing the same workout every day, mix it up to make sure you’re working all of your muscle groups.

“Not all workouts should be the same every day. There will be days when you can go at a slower pace, but you will train longer. Other days your activity will be more intense and shorter” , she says. “You want that variation in activity. It can help prevent injury.”

Don’t:

Skip the warm-up or cool-down: Both should only take you 5 to 10 minutes, and they’re key to avoiding injury, she says. Taking the time to prepare and relax your muscles helps them recover faster from your workout.

Overtraining: Doing too much in one session or training too often for a short period of time can have negative consequences. Yeah, you might get hurt, but you might also burn out and lose motivation. You are also more likely to have sleep problems and get sick.

Set unrealistic goals: If you’re training for an event like a marathon, it’s important to set goals. Focus on establishing those you can reach. Otherwise, you risk pushing yourself too hard and injuring or burning yourself out.

Recognize the signs of overtraining

Just like when you’re sick, your body will tell you when you’re training too hard or overdoing it. Be careful, says Dr. Brown, and if you see any of these signs, reduce your efforts:

Pain: The workout should stress your muscles, but it shouldn’t cause pain. If your exercise hurts, especially if the pain persists, stop.

Swelling: Tell your doctor if you have joint swelling.

Delayed Recovery: If your muscles are taking longer to recover, it’s time to rest them.

Stuck or reduced performance: When you no longer see improvements or your performance declines, you need to cut back on your training for a while.

Overall, says Dr. Brown, listening to your body and gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts are keys to successful training.

“Start slow and work your way up,” she says. “You are more likely to avoid injury and have better results.”

Find a doctor

Providence’s sports medicine doctors and providers can guide you toward safer sports training this season. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory. Through Providence Express Care Virtual, you can also access a full range of healthcare services.

Download the Providence app

We are with you, wherever you are. Make the Providence app your personalized link to your health. Schedule appointments, take virtual visits, message your doctor, view your health records, and more. Learn more and download the app.

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This information is not intended to replace professional medical care. Always follow the instructions of your healthcare professional.

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