As you are gearing up for the start of track season, it is important to consider how you are going to keep yourself healthy from day one to your final meet. 50% of all youth track and field athletes experience some type of injury – make sure you aren’t one of them! The most common type of injury is an overuse injury, which is usually preventable! The following tips are aimed at helping you avoid injury and perform at your best this season.
1. Preseason Conditioning
- This is one of the most beneficial things an athlete can do before the season even starts. Making sure you have built up a solid base of both cardiovascular endurance and strength is critical to avoiding the common pains often seen in the first few weeks of training. Ask your coach for workouts that you can perform on your own or with a few teammates! You can also schedule a visit with a Physical Therapist to screen your movement and identify some areas you can improve and prescribe specific exercises to improve your movement health!
2. Proper Stretching: Dynamic before, Static after
- One of the easiest things to do to prevent many muscle strain injuries is to consistently perform a dynamic warm up before your practice/workout and a stretching routine afterwards.
- Dynamic warm up – It is important to get your body warmed up before engaging in strenuous activity. Light jogging, skipping, and dynamic stretching (lunges, high knees, butt kickers, etc) should be performed at the beginning of every workout! Check out our YouTube page for a few videos to get you started!
- Stretching – You need to stretch the major muscle groups (quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, shoulders/chest) after you workout. Avoid bouncing at the end of your stretch and make sure you hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds!
3. Proper Strengthening
- Make sure you are incorporating some strengthening exercises into your training routine. For runners, jumpers, and throwers hip and core strength is absolutely critical to both injury prevention and successful performance of your event. The bulk of this strengthening should happen during your offseason. This doesn’t have to include weights or machines – body weight exercises or using exercise bands works well!
- If you have pain – make sure you see your physical therapist for a full assessment of your pain and for instruction in the best exercises for you.
4. Check your shoes!
- If they have more than 500 miles on them, it might be time for a new pair, especially if you are noticing some knee pain or shin splints. Make sure you have your running stride assessed to get the right type of shoes.
- Check out this older post on choosing the right shoes! https://csspt.com/2014/08/07/5-reasons-you-may-need-new-athletic-shoes/
5. Beware of overtraining
- Last but not least, your training schedule should include both light workouts and rest days. You shouldn’t be running hard more than 5 times a week (including races). Overtraining can actually cause more harm than good, leading to overuse injuries and pain!
You shouldn’t have any pain with your running or throwing events – if you do, make sure you take care of yourself! If a few days of rest and ice don’t take care of it, call us for a full evaluation so we can get you back to full speed sooner!
-Erin Bell PT, DPT