COVID-19 all but stopped amateur and professional sports at all levels of competition. Slowly, sports are returning, and with that time off comes the added risk of injury. How can athletes, no matter their sport or level of training and workouts, reduce injury risk, especially on overused or recovering joints?
Lauren Rao is an experienced athletic trainer, weightlifting coach, and certified strength and conditioning specialist. She’s seen the injuries athletes go through and knows the importance of injury prevention.
In business development with SmartCells USA, Rao offered some advice as the sports world begins its adventure into the new normal.
In terms of injury prevention, “the obvious benefit to the athlete is they don’t get hurt [and] they continue to play their sport pain-free and continue to keep their focus on improving performance,” Rao said. “Ultimately, we want the body to be healthy, and we want to improve performance in such a way that adds stressors to the body gradually so the body can adjust and adapt to it. When the body can’t adapt, injuries happen.”
One critical element in training Rao mentioned is the surfaces on which athletes train. Using the same principle of gradual stress buildup, when an athlete who hasn’t trained for months steps out onto a hard surface, they are putting a lot of stress on their body without that adjustment period.
“Some athletes work out on concrete floors. Those are awful for you,” Rao said. “Anybody that’s stood in a warehouse for multiple hours in a row knows that when you are on that surface, even just standing, you start getting lower back pain. It’s not a very comfortable position. So, imagine playing a sport on top of those surfaces. By the end of the day, your joints hurt.”
With athletes returning to sports and active training, what can they do, and how can SmartCells help with that process?
“SmartCells has a lineup of products that can help everyone from the weekend warrior to the college athlete,” Rao said.
SmartCells can help reduce up to 70-90% of impact forces on the body, and solutions range from mats to flooring solutions and even custom insoles.
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