To say that the past year has been a little different would be an understatement. Having to wear a mask, how we greet each other, the places that we can or cannot go, how close you can stand to other people, Covid-19 has changed the way we live our lives. As we try to return to a life with some normalcy, there will be new obstacles that stand in our way and we are seeing that firsthand in the athletic population.
The way student athletes have trained, prepared and competed for their respective sports has changed drastically:
• Gym closures
• Decreased capacity
• Distance learning
• Decreased activity
• Increase in a sedentary lifestyle
All have contributed to an increase in several overuse injuries (stress fractures, shin splints), sprains and strains. Returning to sports after an expanded layoff and rushing back without proper training and preparations has been detrimental to athletes' physical and mental health -- Not to mention any disruptions that may occur having to do with increased infection rates, positive COVID-19 tests or missing time due to close contact.
So how do we fix this? As the saying goes “it’s a marathon, not a sprint”. The most important thing is to stay active, it’s imperative that the athlete ramps up their activity slowly. It is not realistic to think you can go from distance learning, 6 hours on the X-box for the past 3 months and think you can be ready to compete at a high level without getting hurt at any level with any sport.
This is not something you can rush; you cannot cram for this exam. If you find yourself a little behind on your training and you start training hard every day thinking you’re going to catch up, be careful. It would be in your best interest to implement some active recovery days, days that you’re not training as hard and concentrating more on technique and recovery.
To continue the theme of ramping up your activity slowly, there could be another blog just on what an athlete should do after testing positive for covid-19. Please consult a medical professional if you have recovered from covid-19 and are looking to get back to sports.
Covid-19 is awful, there is no sugar coating it. Do not let the pandemic cause any more disruption in your life by training too hard too soon. You cannot go from 1-2 hours of activity a week to 12 hours and not expect something to break down. Be smart, program smart and be safe.