In sports, plenty of things that can hurt you are outside of your control—the wild pitch headed for your back, the linebacker you never saw coming, the divot that caused you to roll your ankle. So you should act on the things that are within your power in to stay healthy and on the field. For example: Poor or insufficient eating has been linked to higher injury rates, so be sure to eat well to support your activity level. Here are some other insidious threats to your all-star season.
Warm muscles are the only ones you should be stretching. Static pre-warm-up stretching seriously slashes your strength and stability, and can lead to injury. In one Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study, young men who performed static stretches suffered from 22.68 percent less muscle stability and squatted 8.36 percent less weight than they could after completing a dynamic warm-up.
Athleticism is not just physical. It’s mental, too—and a lack of confidence can hit your body hard, says coach Brian St. Pierre, MS, RD, CSCS. When you’re shaky on the field, second-guessing can cause season-ending missteps. “When you are less confident on the field, you are more timid, you are hesitant on your next move, and you are ‘thinking’ more, rather than just reacting and playing from instinct. You miss assignments, you make more mistakes, and you end up in more vulnerable positions, increasing your risk of injury,” he says. Treat your body right and trust it to execute on game day. No buts about it.
Skipping sleep does a number on your cognitive and fine motor skills. The result: bad moves on the field. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition, young athletes who sleep eight or more hours each night are 68 percent less likely to be injured than athletes who regularly sleep less.
Weak Hip Flexors
A common problem among athletes—especially those who sit in classes for much of the day—weak hip flexors are a main contributor to lower-leg injuries, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Incorporate hip-specific exercises like the Step-Up with Knee Raise, Swiss-Ball Jackknife, and Hip Flexor Stretch into your routine, says exercise physiologist Marta Montenegro, MS, CSCS.