Keep Your Eye on the Prize

How to stay safe and healthy this fall sports season

As the leaves begin to fall and the air starts to chill, it’s time to pre­pare for the fall sports sea­son. Sports are a great way to get the exer­cise you need while show­ing some school spir­it, how­ev­er, they are also a com­mon cul­prit of injury. The best way to lead your team to vic­to­ry this sea­son is to stay on top of your health. To help you care for your body this fall, Bri­an Ward, MD, sports med­i­cine doc­tor and orthopaedic sur­geon, has out­lined some tips on how ath­letes can stay safe and healthy in every sport this season.

Gen­er­al Fall Sports Safety

The key to per­form­ing well — no mat­ter what team you’re on — is to prop­er­ly warm-up and cool-down to loosen mus­cles and reg­u­late blood flow. Even includ­ing sim­ple activ­i­ties such as stretch­ing or a light jog in your pre- and post-game rit­u­al can help keep your body safe from injury.

Foot­ball Safety

Because foot­ball is such a high-impact sport, nev­er ignore a head injury and always wear your gear. If you have suf­fered a head injury dur­ing prac­tice or a game, tell your coach right away and seek med­ical atten­tion if nec­es­sary. Con­cus­sions are a seri­ous, yet com­mon injury for foot­ball play­ers, and hel­mets, pro­tec­tive padding and mouth-guards should be worn at all times to avoid harm to the body.

Soc­cer Safety

Soc­cer play­ers are no strangers to knee injuries, as sprains and strains are the most com­mon types of low­er body injuries in soc­cer. This is why I rec­om­mend get­ting enough rest between games and prac­tices and nev­er play­ing if you are injured. Overuse injuries and not allow­ing your body the prop­er time to heal can weak­en your mus­cles and make you more sus­cep­ti­ble to pro­longed injury.

Cross Coun­try Safety

The best way to avoid painful shin splints and stress frac­tures at every mile is to make sure you are wear­ing high-qual­i­ty, sup­port­ive run­ning shoes. Cross coun­try run­ners should replace their shoes every few months or when they start to show signs of wear and tear.

Vol­ley­ball Safety

When it comes to avoid­ing fin­ger injuries on the vol­ley­ball court, form is every­thing. Cre­ate a tri­an­gle with your thumbs and fore­fin­gers when set­ting and keep your wrists rigid with relaxed and wide­spread fin­gers when block­ing to avoid dis­lo­ca­tions, frac­tures and sprains.

Whether cheer­ing from the side­lines, rac­ing to the fin­ish line or throw­ing a touch­down pass, exer­cis­ing safe prac­tices this sea­son is cru­cial to your health and safe­ty. Sports-relat­ed injuries can man­i­fest in a vari­ety of ways, and it is impor­tant to lis­ten to your body and seek care when some­thing does­n’t feel right.

Learn more about what you can do to keep your body in tip-top shape, or sched­ule an appoint­ment with one of our orthopaedic specialists.

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  • My practice is dedicated to providing the highest quality care to all patients with respect, compassion and attention to detail. As one of the former team physicians for the New York Giants Football team and Iona College, I am passionate about sports medicine and the prevention and management of sports-related injuries. My educational experience at the Hospital for Special Surgery allows me to use evidence-based medicine to treat injuries with state-of-the-art techniques. My goal is to educate and involve each patient so together we can make the best decision for each individual, focusing on patient-centered care.