Many athletes overwork their bodies to pursue excellence in sports.
Basketball players often sustain knee injuries; football players frequently strain their hamstrings; gymnasts are prone to back injuries. All athletes who exercise too hard and too frequently are at risk of developing overtraining syndrome; wherein the body isn’t given enough time to recover between workouts. Also, athletes metabolize energy quickly and sweat out many essential nutrients. Without maintaining a proper diet, athletes’ bodies are unable to repair muscles, bones and tendons damaged during workouts.
With all the careful consideration athletes must maintain to stay healthy, it’s no surprise so many players wind up on the sidelines every season. If you’re an athlete who tends to ignore your body’s signals to slow down, take five or stop, read these important health tips from Foothills Sports Medicine in Phoenix.
- Stay hydrated.
In the summer, at our centers throughout the Valley, we regularly see athletes who aren’t properly hydrated. Without water, the volume of blood in your body decreases. This reduces your ability to transfer heat and forces your heart to beat faster, often limiting your ability to perform. In a recent health study, runners ran a 12K race 2.5 minutes slower when they were dehydrated. Dehydration can also cause muscle cramping and fatigue. The Phoenix sun is incredibly powerful – keep a water bottle with you at all times.
- Eat just enough protein.
Most athletes know that protein helps build muscle. Many athletes don’t know, however, that the body stores extra protein as fat. Experts recommend that endurance athletes eat about 90 grams of protein per day – it can be detrimental to your health to overindulge.
- Sleep well.
Optimal sleep means optimal performance. In 2009, Stanford University published a study which found that getting extra sleep over several weeks improves performance, mood and alertness for athletes. Many of the athletes participating in the study even set personal records after a few weeks of extra sleep. Turn up the A/C during those famously hot Phoenix summer nights – the cold will help you sleep better.
- Skip the alcohol.
Though alcohol has many negative effects on most anyone’s overall health, athletes should be particularly wary. Drinking alcohol decreases growth hormones and testosterone production, cancelling out gains made at the gym. It also impairs cognitive function while promoting dehydration, protein breakdown, and weight gain. Although it might be tempting to celebrate a hard-earned win with a night of heavy drinking, you’re limiting your athletic performance in the long run.
- Be consistent.
Establish a weekly routine which works opposing muscle groups without overexerting any. Also, remember to stretch before and after every workout to prevent injury. Consistency yields the best results, so create a schedule you can stick to.
For more health and fitness advice, trust Foothills Sports Medicine in Phoenix. Visit one of our 15 locations for physical therapy you can trust to help you achieve your optimum level of comfort and fitness.