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The right way to play: injury prevention tips. (Side Lines).

A truly successful sports season is one in which wins are many and injuries are few. The odds are in favor of the athlete who follows sound principles throughout the year -- call them the Terrific Ten (see box below).

In addition to following the Terrific Ten, think of what you can do before, during and after activity to keep injuries to a minimum.

PRE-PLAY TIPS

Start protecting your players before they hit the field or court. Although some injuries are unavoidable, many can be prevented or, at least, decreased in severity. The most common of these are muscle strains, such as lower back strains, and "tennis elbow." To prevent these common conditions, implement a program that works the core muscles preceded by a light warm-up (i.e. jogging or jumping jacks) and stretching. If your players balk at the idea, remind them that warmed-up muscles function better and are less likely to sustain injury.

HARD AT PLAY

Before, during or after a practice or game, some of the most preventable sport injuries are dehydration and heat-related injuries. Hydration and acclimatization to environmental stress are critical to helping keep the active body free from injury.

Sports drinks, like Gatorade, are better than water for protecting against heat-related injuries such as muscle cramps. Sport drinks are flavored, which encourages players to drink more helping them stay better hydrated and they contain sodium and potassium to help replace what's lost in sweat. Sports drinks also contain carbohydrate to fuel active muscles for better performance.

POST PLAY PLANS

Keeping your players healthy extends beyond the time they spend with the team. Athletes require appropriate rest and recovery to perform their best. Without rest and recovery an over-training syndrome is likely to develop. Decreased performance and increased incidence of injuries can often be linked to over-training. A good way to keep athletes on the road of rest and recovery is to encourage them to get at least eight hours of sleep a night.

You can't always keep your athletes out of harm's way, but simple guidelines and some planning should keep them in top form.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Terrific Ten:

1. Take the time to become acclimated to environmental stress

2. Always include a warm up

3. Start hydrated and end hydrated

4. Use equipment that fits properly

5. Integrate exercises that work the core muscles, aerobic endurance and proper biomechanics along with other techniques into training

6. Emphasize periodization in training programs

7. Avoid over-training

8. Eat a welt-balanced diet with healthy snacks

9. Get at least eight hours of sleep each night

10. Get fit to play sports, don't play sports to get fit
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Article Details
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Author:Satterwhite, Yvonne
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2002
Words:441
Previous Article:Coaches' corner.
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