Pre-season Prep & Health Maintenance During Athletic Participation

Written by admin on September 7, 2012 – 8:38 am -

Pre-Season Prep
By Dr Mark Galland with Kate Anderson, ATC

With fall sports season beckoning, parents, student athletes and weekend warriors alike must be prepared for the rigors of another season. There are four key components to ensure a healthy start: hydration, nutrition, condition and protection.

August is one of the hottest months of the year with high temperatures and levels of humidity. In order for athletes to maintain optimal performance on the field or on the court, adequate hydration is necessary. This includes drinking plenty of water and avoiding sweet tea, sodas and energy drinks (which can be harmful, even potentially lethal). Parents, coaches and athletic trainers must make certain that athletes are hydrating properly. Improper hydration is a leading cause of heat illness. Some signs and symptoms of heat illness include: muscle cramps, profuse sweating, dizziness, and rapid pulse and breathing.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and in order to have enough fuel for after-school practice, athletes must start the day with a balanced breakfast followed with a healthy lunch. An example of a balanced breakfast would include whole wheat toast with peanut butter, a banana, a serving of Greek yogurt and low fat chocolate milk. Foods to avoid include fried foods, foods high in fat and sugar, beverages with high levels of caffeine and/or sugar, and processed foods. Athletic trainers or other sports medicine providers can be a good resource for nutritious and quick meal ideas. A healthy and balanced diet will allow for athletes to achieve optimum physical and mental performance.

August brings some of the hottest days of the year, so practice early in the morning or later in the afternoon, when temperatures are cooler, to provide a safer environment for the athletes while acclimating to the demands of practice. Coaches must allow athletes, especially for outdoor sports, water breaks every 15-20 minutes to maintain proper hydration and prevent heat related illness. Also, gradually increase the intensity of practice to allow the athletes to adjust. For example, the NCHSAA mandates that the first two days of football conditioning will include helmets only, days 3-5 will include helmet and pads and day 6 full contact can begin. This allows athletes to adjust to wearing the protective equipment. Athletes should maintain communication with their coaches and athletic trainers at all times to ensure a safe and healthy practice.

All sports require some type of equipment whether it be a specific type of shoe, knee pads, shin guards or helmets. These pieces of equipment are required, and it is essential that they fit properly and are regularly inspected and cleaned. Poorly fitting equipment can lead to serious injury. Coaches and ATCs must ensure that each athlete’s equipment is appropriately sized for competition. Regular cleaning of this equipment is also essential for the prevention of skin infections such as MRSA, which is highly contagious.

Sport participation can be dangerous and injurious even under optimum conditions, so it is the responsibility of all (parents, athletes, coaches, and athletic trainers) to prepare appropriately to prevent injury.

Dr. Mark Galland is a Board Certified Orthopaedic Surgeon specializing in sports medicine, practicing in Wake Forest and North Raleigh. He serves as team physician and Orthopaedic consultant to the Carolina Mudcats, High-A Affiliate of the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball, as well as several area high schools and colleges. Dr. Galland can be reached at (919) 562-9410 or by visiting or

Kate Anderson is a Certified Athletic Trainer completing a post-professional athletic training residency program with OSNC. A native of Clayton, NC and a graduate of UNCW, Kate also serves as the Athletic Trainer at Northern Vance High School in Henderson. Kate can be reached at (919) 562-9410 or

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One Comment to “Pre-season Prep & Health Maintenance During Athletic Participation”

  1. Bill King Says:

    Great advice in here! Thanks.

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