Football, volleyball, and many other sports are resuming practice, or planning to, after an abrupt end last March. While much time has been spent on adopting procedures to prevent the spread of COVID among athletes, sports physicians and trainers have another worry — a rise in injuries from ACL tears to Achilles tendon injuries.
For many young athletes, it will be the first time in months that they will be participating in organized practice and workouts. The prolonged break has likely led to “deconditioning”, or a loss of neuromuscular function and memory.
Board certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist Dr. Kelly Cline spoke to the Austin media recently about how athletes can reduce the risk of injury as they start playing again this fall.
Why are sports medicine doctors predicting more injuries?
While there is very little published data available on how the pandemic has impacted athletes returning to sports, Dr. Cline believes athletes will return detrained, less conditioned and less flexible. And when these young athletes are still growing and return to physical activity too quickly, they can overload their growth plates, causing injury to their knee, shoulder and hip.
How can athletes safely return to physical activity?
The ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality can put athletes at risk for injury coming off the COVID-19 break. Dr. Cline recommends a gradual return to full activity, allowing at least 3-5 weeks of aerobic and weight training, to decrease injury potential.
To avoid a season ending injury, Dr. Cline recommends the following injury prevention tips:
- Listen to your body.
- Communicate when experiencing pain.
- Don’t push through pain.
- Stretch to regain flexibility.