With the 2020 Olympics just around the corner and college football season upon us, athletics and how to prevent injuries are on the forefront of many minds. If you own a gym or studio that offers one-on-one personal training, you may have come across training opportunities for young athletes.
Many great athletes start at a very young age, and you have the chance to be a part of future athlete’s growth to greatness. So how can you ensure that you and your trainers are making a positive impact, and preventing injuries that could make or break their long term sports careers? Discover the best ways to prevent injuries when training young athletes.
What is Prehab?
Prehab is short for prehabilitation, which is essentially a form of training designed to prevent injuries. The concept behind it is to help the bodies of athletes prepare for the endurance of their specific sport. There is a strong emphasis on core training since core strength is vital for every athlete. The exercises that make up a prehab routine should be re-evaluated frequently to prevent plateau and boredom and to ensure the program evolves along with the athlete’s progress.
Muscular imbalances are also a major consideration in developing a prehab program. Explore the most common muscular imbalances and the ones that are associated with the individual’s sport. For example, if an athlete consistently throws a football with their right arm, how does this impact the level of strength in the non-dominant arm? Incorporating free weights where each muscle is responsible for movement is one approach that can help develop muscles more evenly and overcome any imbalances. Some imbalances to watch for are those that can occur in the abdomen/back, thighs/hamstrings, as well as the chest/upper back.
Keys to Injury Prevention
Use proper form
Perhaps the most important step in creating a workout routine for young athletes is to teach and encourage proper form in each and every exercise. Proper form is important for several reasons. It prevents injuries and strains, helps the client to better isolate targeted muscles, and allows the client to learn and achieve proper breathing techniques throughout the workout. Some of the dangers associated with not using proper form include potential strain on a client’s spine, and an increased risk of hyperextension of the muscles, which could, in turn, cause muscle tears or even long term damage to the joints.
The best way to prevent injury and create a healthy, happy client is to insist upon the proper form in every single exercise. A great tip that may help you ensure proper form in every session is to first reduce the weight that your client is using and be certain they can do the entire exercise correctly before they even attempt a heavier weight.
Ensure rest periods are taken
The rest period is crucial for the body to rebuild the tissues broken down in workouts. Extra rest periods should be taken for athletes that account for their intense time during their sport as well.
Encourage drinking plenty of fluids
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drinking plenty of fluids is important anytime. When you add in an exercise routine coupled with the many hours spent weekly engaging in the athlete’s sport of choice, proper hydration is crucial. Remind your clients to drink water throughout their workouts, and to make a habit of hydrating during their events too. When an athlete becomes dehydrated, this can lead to muscle cramps, headaches, fatigue, and potential injuries.
Build muscle strength
One of the main goals of an exercise routine that supports young athletes is to build muscle strength. No matter what sport, strength training will increase their overall performance. Whether swinging a bat, throwing a football, or shooting a basketball, a stronger body helps prevent injuries and creates more force and gets better results in sporting events.
Build core strength
Training core-specific muscles are beneficial to daily life and enhance any athletic endeavor. Some of the benefits include increased power, strength, and stabilization of the core muscles. The core is comprised of the abdominals, back, and hips. The more developed and strong one’s core muscles are, the far less susceptible a person is to injury from performing day-to-day activities as well as during their specific sports. From golf to basketball, and from swimming to baseball, a strong, developed core will help to improve the overall function and success of the athlete. Can you imagine swinging a bat with a weak core? The twisting movement could easily cause a back injury without a strong enough core to support the motion.
A weak core can be caused by trauma or inactivity, which can be quite impactful on a client’s daily life, or devastating for their future in sports. Conversely, a strong and balanced core means mundane daily tasks can be executed effortlessly, and an athlete can focus on increasing their sports-related skill set.
Flexibility is also an important part of injury prevention in athletic training. It not only helps to maintain range of motion, but flexibility also supports healthy muscles and joints. Making flexibility training a part of your client’s routine can also help reduce soreness, and improve their performance on the field.
Improve cardio endurance to coincide with their sport
Cardio endurance is a necessity in many sports. Different sports require lengthier or more intense levels of cardio endurance. While participating in the sport itself increases cardio, this should be enhanced further in an athlete’s workout routine.
Take frequent breaks
In order to reduce the chance of injury as well as prevent injuries and illnesses from overheating, regular breaks in both training and on the field performance are essential.
The fulfillment derived from supporting young athletes while they push themselves to their full potential is a positive experience for both trainers and gym owners. However, it comes with great responsibility as well. Taking the time to ensure you are doing everything you can to give the client their best shot at long term athletic success shows that you care. And perhaps you will get the chance to watch your young clients in the Olympics or in professional sports in years to come.
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