Prevention and Wellness

Answers to Common Sports Training and Conditioning Questions

Premier Health’s Sports Medicine doctors, physical therapists and athletic trainers answer frequently asked questions about conditioning.

What is the importance of a pre-participation physical?

Dr. Sean Convery discusses the importance of pre-participation physicals. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Having a pre-participation physical exam (PPPE) is an important part of getting ready to play an organized sport. These exams are to help athletes stay healthy and safe during training and while competing, according to the American College of Sports MedicineOff Site Icon (ACSM).

During a PPPE (pre-participation physical examination), steps that will be taken to protect the athlete include:

  • Identifying any issues that could make it difficult for the athlete to play and practice
  • Assessing the athlete’s fitness level for specific sports
  • Finding any medical problems that increase the athlete’s risk of illness or injury
  • Helping to maintain the athlete’s health and safety
  • Teaching parents and athletes about sports, exercise, injuries and other health problems

It’s best – when possible – to have a PPPE done by the athlete’s regular physician who is familiar with his or her medical history, according to the ACSM.

For more information about pre-performance physical exams, talk with your physician.

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What things are covered in a pre-participation physical?

Dr. Sean Convery discusses what is covered in a pre-participation physical. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

A pre-participation physical exam (PPPE) that an athlete gets before starting a sports should be in-depth to make sure they are safe and healthy to practice and play, according to the American College of Sports MedicineOff Site Icon (ACSM).

Your athlete’s PPPE, according to the ACSM, should include:

  • Abdomen – intestines, kidney, liver, spleen
  • Blood pressure
  • Genitalia – hernias, sexual maturity, testicles
  • Head – eyes, ears, neck, teeth, throat
  • Hearing
  • Height
  • In-depth family history
  • Neurological – coordination, reflexes, strength
  • Orthopedic – bones, joints, ligaments, spine, tendons
  • Pulse rate
  • Thorax – chest wall, heart, lungs
  • Vision
  • Weight

As needed, the health care provider might order lab work, X-rays or electrocardiograms to obtain additional information about your child athlete’s ability to play safely, according to the ACSM.

Talk to your doctor for more information about what is included in a pre-performance physical exam.

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Why is honesty so important when it comes to previous injuries or medical issues?

Dr. Sean Convery discusses why being honest about previous injuries and medical issues is important. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

It’s very important for athletes and their parents to be honest about medical issues and injuries during pre-participation exams, according to The National Athletic Trainers’ AssociationOff Site Icon (NATA).

Being honest about medial issues and injuries can help healthcare providers determine if it is safe for athletes to participate in sports practices and games without risking their health, according to the NATA.

Having your athlete’s PPPE with a healthcare provider they see regularly is strongly recommended, because they will have knowledge of your medical history, including previous concussions, heart issues and joint concerns.

For more information about the importance of honesty about medical issues and injuries, talk with your physician.

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What does a conditioning program look like for a middle school athlete?

Premier Health Physical Therapist, Greg Schultz, discusses conditioning for middle school athletes. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Middle school athletes who are just starting out in a conditioning program with weights should focus more on improving coordination and less on gaining muscle mass, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

Because the bodies of middle school students are not yet developed to the point of building muscle mass, any kind of strength and resistance training can instead help develop neuro coordination, according to the NIH. This can help speed up reaction times, helping athletes during game play.

For more information about middle school athletic conditioning, talk with your physician.

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Why is form important when lifting weights?

Lifting weights is often part of preparing for most sports and can help athletes gain strength, muscle memory and even self-esteem, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

Using the right form to lift weights is critical to ensure athletes don’t hurt themselves. Lifting weights the wrong way can cause serious injuries, according to the NIH.

For more information about how using the right form when lifting weights, talk with your doctor.

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What is the importance of a proper warm up and cool down?

Premier Health Physical Therapist, Greg Schultz, discusses the importance of proper warm-ups and cool-downs. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

Warming up and cooling down are both important parts of a workout that can easily be overlooked when people jump right in, according to the Disease Control and PreventionOff Site Icon (CDC).

Taking a few minutes before your workout to warm up gets your muscles warm and loosened up before starting your training, according to the CDC.

Cooling down after your workout allows your muscles time to recover before you move on with your day, according to the CDC.

Both warming up and cooling down can help you avoid injury and unnecessary pain and soreness that can come from working out without easing into and out of it, according to the CDC.

Talk to your doctor about the importance of taking time to warm up and cool down.

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What is the importance of flexibility with athletes?

Athletes who work on their flexibility are less likely to be injured while practicing and competing, according to theNational Institutes of HealthOff Site   Icon (NIH).

Stretching and other warm-up techniques can help improve flexibility, which can ultimately improve performance, according to the NIH.

For more information about why flexibility is important to athletes, talk with your doctor.

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How can we best minimize post-workout soreness?

Physical Therapist, Greg Schultz, discusses how to best minimize post-workout soreness. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

One thing people sometimes dread, especially after first getting into a workout routine, is post-workout soreness. The uncomfortable feeling is caused by a buildup of lactic acid in the muscles used during a workout, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

Stretching before and after your workout is one way to help minimize soreness, according to the NIH. Also, staying well-hydrated helps.

Some athletes opt for massages or using an ice pack to help relax their muscles after a workout and avoid soreness, according to the American College of Sports MedicineOff Site Icon (ACSM).

Talk to your doctor for more information about ways to minimize post-workout soreness.

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What are the main goals or objectives when training in an off-season program vs. an in-season program?

Much of off-season training is focused on preparing the athlete physically and mentally for play, according to the The National Athletic Trainers’ AssociationOff Site Icon (NATA). An athlete’s participation in sports shouldn’t begin with competition, but should evolve out of preparatory conditioning that includes strength and flexibility training, according to NATA.

Off-season training should be blended into an overall physical fitness regime to prepare an athlete for competition and also to identify any physical vulnerabilities before the season begins, when proper measures can be taking without interrupting the athlete’s season play, according to the ACSM. American College of Sports MedicineOff Site Icon (ACSM). In-season programs are less rigorous due to the time that the athlete spends in sports practice during the season, according to the ACSM.

Talk to your doctor about sports training.

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What are the main differences in intensity and duration when looking at offseason training vs. in-season training?

Part of off-season training involves building muscle and conditioning in preparation for play, according to the American College of Sports MedicineOff Site Icon. Training is usually longer during the off-season and is more intense, according to the ACSM.

Training during the season can decrease by nearly a half, according to the The National Athletic Trainers’ AssociationOff Site Icon (NATA). The time an athlete spends in practice during the competitive season allows for lesser time in non-competitive training in the in-season, according to NATA.

For more information about off-season and in-season training.

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What are some signs to look for if the athlete is training too much during in-season time and overtraining is suspected?

It is possible for athletes to overtrain, sometimes leading to injury, according to the American Academy of Family PhysiciansOff Site Icon (AAFP). Injuries from overuse or overtraining can result from improper technique, poorly-fitting protective equipment, training errors, and muscle weakness, according to the AAFP.

Symptoms of overtraining come in both physical and mental forms, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon. Symptoms may include:

Physiological

  • Bowel disorders
  • Changes in normal blood pressure
  • Delayed return to normal heart rate
  • Elevated basal metabolic rate
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Higher resting heart rate
  • Impeded respiration
  • Weight loss/excessive thirst

Psychological

  • Anger/hostility
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Drowsiness and apathy
  • Excessive, prolonged weariness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Lack of appetite
  • Loss of self-confidence
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Confusion

Talk to your doctor about the risks of overuse and overtraining.

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What is the overall goal of any training program regardless of time of the season?

Training in the off-season and in-season helps the athlete keep healthy and in shape for play, according to the American College of Sports MedicineOff Site Icon (ACSM). There are many stresses on the body during play, and it’s important for athletes to build the strength necessary to absorb them, according to the ACSM.

Muscles need exercise and training because weakened muscles are more prone to injury, according to the American Academy of Family PhysiciansOff Site Icon (AAFP). Regular exercise and the appropriate training also enhances performance during play, and may progressively build endurance for longer, more intense competition, according to the AAFP.

For more information about the goals of training programs, talk with your doctor.

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Source: Sean Convery, MD, Premier Sports Medicine; Greg Schultz, PT, DPT, CSCS, Premier Health Sports Medicine - UVMC; Brett Hoffman, Athletic Trainer, Premier Health Sports Medicine

Content Updated: July 25, 2018

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