26 Apr Missing Links To Avoid Injury for High School Athletes
High School Athletes: The Missing Links to Stay Injury Free
We are seeing a scary rise in the number of high school sports injuries. Ranging from surgical needs like ACL tears to overuse injuries including patellar tendonitis or impingement syndrome. And while the growing rate of specialization in sports can be a culprit for a lot of these issues, there is something else flying under the radar. This problem, is the lack of recovery both physically AND mentally.
There are a couple issues that are worth noting that can be setting up a high school athlete for injury.
Different from adults, high school athletes are required to sit in class throughout the day. They then go straight from poor positions, usually slouched or hunched over from texting or typing, straight to practice or games. This over time, can lead to muscular imbalances, especially at an age when they’re still growing into their adult bodies.
The key to combating this is to set a 10-20 minute timer every night to work on mobility. Because it may not be possible, or “cool” to get up every 15-20 minutes and work on stretching, it needs to be done at some point during the 24-hour period.
Doing the mobility work specifically hip flexors, calf muscles and shoulder overhead movement(videos to the right) will help set up improvements in mechanics. The great news for this age group is their muscle tissue allows them to make changes to hyper-active muscles quickly, yielding changes in shorter periods.
Speaking of cell phones and electronics, the increase use amongst high school athletes can be detrimental to the performance of their nervous system. Our nervous system is the quarterback of our bodies. It controls which muscles fire, how much they fire and how long they fire. Looking at cell phones, tablets, and computers all day (and night for some high school teens) can critically reduce the performance of this nervous system. This can result in injuries, due to misfiring or non-active muscles not engaging to protect these joints and putting more stress on ligaments and tendons.
Limiting electronic use, especially at night is the most important thing you can do. The nervous system needs sleep to recover and recharge. Putting down the phone, turning off the TV and winding down by reading a book, daily reflection, or maybe cleaning your room? (You’re welcome moms) are great ways to achieve this. Bottom line is if you want to increase your performance and reduce your injury risk, you need to get good, quality sleep.
Another way to elicit better sleep and recovery for high school athletes is what we’re seeing in the professional and collegiate levels with cold therapy. Taking a cold shower, doing an ice bath or using whole body cryotherapy (like ours at XMP) can drastically help turn off the fight or flight nervous system. This system, known as the sympathetic system, is great for when we are playing sports or need to concentrate. But using it all day long drains the storage just like a battery and leaves you consistently tried or sluggish. Using cold therapy on a consistent basis (1-4x per week depending on in-season versus out of season) can boost your sympathetic system and help stay injury free.
- Do mobility or stretching for 10-20 minutes a night
- Turn off your electronics at least an hour before bed and properly wind down
- Use cold therapy- cold shower, ice bath or whole body cryotherapy to boost your nervous system
Do these three things consistently, and you will see the difference in how you feel and perform! For more information and help with your specific recovery needs for yourself, child or team, contact Dr. Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Learn more about the benefits of whole body cryotherapy for high school athletes in Raleigh here.