Athletes battle injury

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 21, 1999

With fall sports just around the corner, student athletes have already taken to the fields and courts.

Saturday, August 21, 1999

With fall sports just around the corner, student athletes have already taken to the fields and courts. While many of the coaches give their athletes proper guidance to avoid injury, it’s ultimately up to the student to know what has to be done to stay in the game throughout the season.

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Students who have sustained injuries know it can be a long, hard road back to recovery. That could mean a lot of time spent on the bench.

Albert Lea senior volleyball player Kristy Mueller knows all this from experience.

While on the court, she landed on another player’s foot after a block and ended up with a sprained ankle.

&uot;I had crutches and a cast,&uot; said Mueller, who was out for about a month.

Once the cast was removed, her time out of the game continued because of the sports injury.

&uot;I had to strengthen it again before I could play,&uot; she recalled.

While some injuries are caused by unforeseeable accidents, others can be prevented.

Lynn Scheevel, an athletic trainer for Health Reach, said it’s vital for athletes to be in shape when they start competing.

&uot;We see a lot of injuries from students coming in to the season without being in shape,&uot; Scheevel said, adding that athletes need to remain active throughout the year, not just their sports season, to stay in shape to compete.

Drinking plenty of water and avoiding caffeine is also necessary to keep healthy, she said.

Albert Lea varsity volleyball coach Lisa Deyak agreed, and said eating a healthy diet is also important.

&uot;I tell the kids not to skip meals. Dieting while an athlete is probably not a good idea. None of these kids need to go on a diet anyhow,&uot; Deyak said. &uot;And protein is important. But that’s hard with girls – if they want to vegetarian or think they need to lose weight.&uot;

While a good diet and constant training are important, there’s more to avoiding injuries. Once the athletes are on the court, there’s additional things they need to keep in mind to avoid getting hurt, said Deyak.

&uot;Warming up gradually, so they’re building their body temperature and warming their muscles is important,&uot; she said.

Deyak went on to say that athletes need to warm up before they start stretching.

&uot;If they start stretching and their muscles are cold, it’s not going to do them much good,&uot; she said. &uot;They need 15 minutes of good solid stretching anywhere from 20 minutes after they start warming up to the end of practice. They especially need to stretch the ankle. That’s the majority of injuries – ankle injuries.&uot;

The practice itself is important to help athletes to avoid injury in competition.

&uot;Knowing good technical skills, knowing the proper way to do it is important,&uot; Deyak said. &uot;If they don’t do things properly, they could get hurt.&uot;

And of course, the proper equipment, shoes and protective gear is vital for athletes.

&uot;Breaking in shoes before the season starts can save athletes from injuries too,&uot; said Scheevel.

But even taking the proper precautions isn’t insurance an injury-free season.

&uot;You do what you can, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. There’s still accidents,&uot; said Deyak.

Albert Lea senior volleyball player Alyssa Nygaard agrees that staying prepared is the best medicine.

&uot;You always have to be aware that something can happen,&uot; said Nygaard. &uot;And when you do get hurt, tell someone right away.&uot;

&uot;We ice and elevate it immediately,&uot; said Deyak. &uot;And if the pain persists or if it turns black and blue, I refer them to a trainer.&uot;

The trainer will help the athlete recover fully, offering exercises that will help the athlete gradually rebuild strength.

&uot;Don’t come back too soon after an injury. You could hurt yourself even more,&uot; said Mueller.