If you or a female family member is preparing to start up a new season of soccer, running, tennis, cheerleading, gymnastics, or other sport, spend some time getting your body into shape before the season begins.
Getting your body in shape will help you out-last the competition and decrease your likelihood of suffering from an injury that could put you on the sidelines. The correct training, along with practicing healthy nutrition habits, will help you stay in your best shape throughout the season.
Here’s how Robert Berry, M.D., medical director of sports medicine and on the medical staff at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano suggests you get in shape.
KEEP UP YOUR KNEES
As you hit puberty your pelvis gets wider which causes a greater angle from your hip to the knee.
“This increases a woman’s chance of injuring her knee when she lands,” says Dr. Berry. In addition, your knee’s femoral notch, which is where your ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is situated, is not as wide a man’s. And hormonal variations during your menstrual cycle can cause your joints to get loose.
“Women are at two to eight times greater risk of tearing their ACL than men, and this usually occurs as girls jump and land,” says Dr. Berry. “This is because women are more likely than men to land with firm legs, not allowing for bend in the hips or knees.” Learn more about how to land properly and protect your knees.
DON’T STRESS OUT YOUR SHINS
Stress fractures impact about 20 percent of female athletes, and girls who play high-impact sports at a high intensity are at an increased risk for stress fractures.
“Research shows that adolescent girls who partake in high-impact sports are at greater risk of experiencing stress fractures than females who participate in lower impact sports like swimming, biking, dance, or softball,” says Dr. Berry. The recent study found that every hour a girl plays a high-impact sport they increase their risk of stress fractures by 8 percent.
Dr. Berry says that stress fractures are small breaks in the bone, typically caused by recurring use. They can be painful, but most of the time they will go away on their own with rest.
“While weight-bearing movement is helpful in increasing bone density, too much high-impact activity can be hurtful to the bones,” says Dr. Berry.
“To help reduce the number of stress fractures in girls, coaches should create training programs that balance the high-impact and strenuous activities with lower-impact training so that the total amount of impact is reduced. Also, never increase your running mileage by more than 50 percent per week, to allow your bones a chance to adjust to the added stress”