The bats are about to swing, the discus will fly and lacrosse balls will hurtle across Long Island school fields. As students gear up for spring sports, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association recognizes March as “National Athletic Training Month.” This month-long initiative aims to spread awareness about the important contributions of athletic trainers to the safety and well-being of student athletes. NYU Winthrop Hospital, which has the largest hospital-based athletic training program on Long Island, serving 16 high schools and middle schools, offers up some spring-sports safety tips. These include proper hydration, dynamic warm-up or static stretching and acclimatization—adjusting to changes in the environment such as fluctuations in temperature and humidity—to maintain safety and performance.
“To properly acclimatize for a spring sport, we recommend progressing the amount of exercise time outdoors slowly over a 10- to 14-day period to prepare for safe sporting activity and deter from any illnesses,” said Christopher Napoli, ATC, supervisor of Athletic Training Services at NYU Winthrop Hospital. “It’s especially important that coaches gradually increase the intensity of the spring sport each day, rather than having student-athletes dive headlong into strenuous activity.”
According to athletic trainers at NYU Winthrop, it’s also key to perform dynamic warm-ups (moving and stretching) prior to participation and conclude a training session/practice with a warm-down as well, followed by static or stationary stretching. This will ensure that the heart rate has increased to allow maximum blood flow and elasticity of the muscles prior to exercise and to bring the heart rate down slowly after activity.
“While a baseball or softball team may share in joint exercises, a student who plays shortstop needs a conditioning regimen quite different than that of a catcher who plays in a stationary-type position,” explained Daniel DeSimone, ATC, who is also a supervisor of Athletic Training Services at NYU Winthrop. “Whether you are a hurdler, lacrosse player or even a golfer, the importance of performing a dynamic warm-up is key and decreases the likelihood of injury in your sport.”
The NYU Winthrop athletic trainers are part of the Hospital’s Sport Medicine program. The athletic trainers’ services include community outreach on injury prevention and concussion clinics, health promotion, hydration and nutrition advice, clinical examination and diagnosis, acute care of injury and illness, therapeutic interventions and more. Area schools that currently tap NYU Winthrop athletic trainers include two high schools in Levittown (MacArthur and Division) and Clarke and Island Trees high schools.
Contact NYU Winthrop Hospital’s Sports Medicine Program at 516-663-1054 for more information on spring-sports safety tips, or visit www.nyuwinthrop.org.
—Submitted by NYU Winthrop