As we all anxiously await the end of this dreadful pandemic, we look forward to what 2021 will bring us. While no one believes it will be a light switch, most of us are expecting to return to some semblance of normal as the winter ends and we head towards vaccinations and better weather in the spring and summer.
As I have learned over the many years of my career in sports medicine, and as we have seen over and over again in professional sports, a sudden change in activity can greatly increase the risk of injury. This holds true with all types of athletes— no matter the age or level of competition. Every year, I see countless young athletes who don’t prepare properly for their sports season and coaches doing their job of trying to get these athletes ready for the season as fast as they can, given the time constraints that exist. This can be a recipe for disaster. I explain to these young athletes the importance of proper preparation. You should come into a season already prepared to play. Pre-season should be fine-tuning for an athlete, not a couch to 5k situation.
The current scenario that our young athletes have been subjected to is exactly what leads to injury. Seasons canceled, no supervised training, no group congregation, no organized sports, homeschooling, lockdowns, less access to gyms and training facilities – these are the factors that prevent proper preparation for upcoming seasons. These are the factors that lead to injury.
As it is what we all are hoping for, perhaps a vaccine and the change in weather will allow the return of sports in the spring. Thus, I encourage all athletes, parents of athletes, coaches and trainers to use this time wisely. Obviously, our safety, health and prevention of the spread of Covid-19 are of utmost importance. If able to be performed in a safe manner, it would behoove us all to prepare for the return of sports. The last thing any of us want is an injury to take away a season once we are finally allowed to participate in our desired activities.
Whether team, individual, indoor or outdoor activities, we must prepare. Don’t let complacence lead to injury. Use this time to perfect your skill, work on conditioning, learn new training or exercise techniques, improve form and mechanics, cross-train, learn proper pelvic and core exercises, and improve flexibility. Protect yourself, not just from Covid-19, but from the consequences of inactivity that many of us have experienced.