Athletic Trainers Say Take Inspiration from Super Bowl Players

Planning to sit on the couch chowing down on nachos during Super Bowl Sunday? Don’t continue your sedentary ways once the big game is over. Remember that exercise offers benefits for almost everyone. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association offers the following great advice that can apply to athletes of every age—even if your sport of choice is chair exercises or a walk around the block!

Mature African-American couple cheering and watching football game at their home on television.

With Super Bowl Sunday around the corner, Americans may be inspired to try a new sport or physical activity as they watch elite athletes compete on the playing field. Whether you’re encouraged to toss a football for the first time in months, lace up your sneakers and hit the pavement, or return to a weight training regimen after a holiday break, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association offers tips to begin or return to activities with injury prevention and safe participation in mind.

“We all get excited watching athletes perform at such high levels of competition,” says Jim Thornton, MA, ATC, CES, president of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. “We may even get energized to accelerate our own exercise regimens. Following a routine with a moderate approach and a gradual return to or start of activity often produces the best results.”

 

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association offers these recommendations for smart and safe exercise:

Adjust to the sport and environment. When working out in different climates, your body needs time to adapt to temperature and activity. “Gradually increase participation and duration of a sport,” says Thornton.

Attire can be essential. Depending on the environment, proper attire and layering may be essential for peak performance. “If you’re in a winter weather setting this time of year, make sure to dress in layers to ensure maximum protection from the cold,” says Thornton.

Eat healthy and hydrate. Keeping the body well fueled with nutritious food and hydrated before, during and after exercise helps to improve muscle function and overall performance.

It (sometimes) takes two. If you need further inspiration and someone to help you get up and go, find a friend, family member or colleague to exercise with.

Be reasonable with weights.  If you’re new to or haven’t done weight training for a while, start slow. Be sure to use proper form, rest between sets and increase weights slowly. “Trying to accelerate a weight training regimen too quickly can lead to unwanted injury or fatigued muscles,” says Thornton.

Mental preparation. It’s important to be motivated about any new activity you may try. If it feels overwhelming or you feel as if you are not ready to take on something new, start in stages. (For example, if a friend or colleague is encouraging you to run a 5K race before you’ve started a running program, remind yourself to set your own training schedule and pace.)

Warm up and cool down. A proper exercise regimen should begin with an adequate dynamic warmup and proper stretching and cool down after activities to reduce risk of injury.

Pain should be your guide. Muscle soreness is often common. But pain before, during and after your exercise is an indicator that you are doing too much and need to rest or stop an activity.

Build in recovery time. Allow time for your body to rest and rejuvenate in between sessions. In the beginning, this may require a full day in between exercise or activity.

Pay attention to sport-specific injury prevention. Any repetitive motion can lead to overuse injury. “Developing a plan that encourages use of different muscle groups can build strength and endurance and give muscles a chance to rest and avoid overuse. If injury occurs, stop the activity immediately and seek medical advice,” notes Thornton.

Is the equipment in working order? Make sure all equipment you may use is safe and in working order. Are weight machines balanced? Is your bike ergonomically correct? Are sneakers or walking shoes in good shape or in need of replacement at the start of the year?

Talk with your physician. Be sure to review your medical history and discuss any new exercise regimens with your physician before participation.

“Following these recommendations will help ensure a balanced approach to exercise and physical activity leading up to the big games and right into spring. Most important is to listen to your own body so you start the year with a clean bill of health,” says Thornton.

Source: The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) – Health Care for Life & Sport. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports 39,000 members of the athletic training profession, health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries from sports, physical and occupational activity, and provide immediate care for acute injuries.