At the beginning of the season when you jump right into practices, you are very prone to pre-season injuries. Best precaution is to make sure you are warming up completely and wearing enough clothes in the cold weather. Cold muscles are not flexible and they tend to "pull" much easier causing inflammation.
Coaches: Please make your girls do a full warm up including arm circles and dynamic stretches! You do not want to start your season off with injuries due to poor warm up.
Players: Take control of your body. If you are not getting enough out of your warm up, (everyone is a little different) add you own movements and stretches. Get to practice early to do your warm up.
1. Dress Appropriately
So simple but there is always that one kid that forgot a jacket or does not have multiple layers. Dress in multiple layers when it is cold and wait as long as you can before you take off your sweats. If you are practicing indoors, put your sweats back on before you go outside in the cold.
2. Proper Warm Up and Cool Down
Does not really matter, just move until YOU feel loose. Dynamic movement is the ideal way to warm up meaning you are doing light exercises in constant but slow tempo movement. Do not hold stretches for more than 10 seconds but stretch areas multiple times as needed.You should move until you start to break a sweat indicating your have raised your core temperature.
Here are a few simple exercises to start with:
3. Take Care of the Pain
Ice is your friend! I highly recommend icing arms the first week of practice for all positions. Ice is best within 24 hours. If you are sore for several days, you can use a hot/cold treatment. In the shower, run the hottest water you can stand for 1-2 minutes. Immediately change to the coldest water you can stand for about 30 seconds. Repeat this process until you complete 4 hot cycles and 3 cold cycles.
If this does not help, you can step it up and use ice packs and heating pads. After practice, ice for 15 minutes, let warm up for about 10 minutes, put heat on for 10 minutes, 15 minutes of ice again, nothing for 15 minutes, heat for 10 minutes, move and stretch the area until you can feel discomfort (mild pain), and ice again for 15 minutes.
If you experience mild swelling use the RICE method (rest, ice and anti-Inflammatory, Compression, and Elevation) for initial injuries.If you do not start to get some relief in a week (following the above instructions) then go see a doctor. Being an athlete my whole life, when I jumped the gun and went to the doctor for minor injuries, I will be told the above information along with taken out of games and practices for a week minimum.
4. Re-fuel Properly
What you eat has a lot to do with how you feel. Adding protein post workout can help muscles recover quicker. Sports drinks are also appropriate after workouts. You can avoid dairy and wheat when your body is really sore. Dairy and wheat cause inflammation on top of the physical inflammation your muscles feel. Temporarily taking these foods out of your diet can help the recovery process.