Down But Not Out

Don't wake up in the morning in a haze of pain-filled regret. Preventing injuries on the water, at the gym, and even out socializing is key to keeping your sailing season going smoothly.

Sailing World

Light Air Sailing

-Courtesy Amelia Quinn

Whether from a traumatic injury or general wear and tear, chances are that something is eventually going to lay low even the healthiest athletes. Knowing when to take a break and recover is just as important as hitting the gym, and dealing with your injuries instead of ignoring them will help reduce the time it takes to get you back in the game. Especially in the off-season, you should be checking in with your body and making sure that it’s at 100 percent.

Even college-aged sailors know the aches and pains that come along with physical activity: sore backs from hiking and irritated knees from crouching in light air, to name just two. Aside from strains accumulated while actually sailing are those from day-to-day life, whether it be from cardio, lifting, or getting a little too rowdy with your friends. There are a few important steps to take to prevent avoidable injuries, and some strategies for coping with them after the fact in order to get back on the water, or to the gym, faster.

Stretching prior to physical activity is something that should never, ever be skipped. Before workouts, do 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching such as jogging, lunges, high skips, butt-kicks, and high-knees. Then do some static stretching, making sure to target every major muscle group; hold each stretch to just before the point of discomfort for a minimum of 30 seconds. If one area feels particularly tight, ask a trainer how to target it. Take a tip from Boston College and stretch before sailing.

During lifts, proper form is much more important than using more weight. Improper form can result in an injury; the first time you perform a new exercise, try to have a trainer watch you to make sure you’re doing it right. Being careless and rushing through workouts is likely to bring you grief, so take your time setting up and if you feel any pain, stop immediately. Observe the proper counts and rest intervals of your workout plan, and if you have any aches afterward, consider visiting Sports Medicine.

Sometimes, it's hard to acknowledge a problem before it's too late. If you have frequent or sharp pain in one specific area, you should address the problem before it becomes exacerbated and your recovery time gets longer. Visit Sports Medicine, if your team has access to it, or if not, visit your school's health center. Often, the solution will be rest and icing, but sometimes it can be an easy fix that you wouldn't recognize without a diagnosis: new running shoes, a simple sleeve for your knee, or even a back massage. If it's a deeper issue, then follow through with a recovery program, which might consist of strengthening exercises, stretches, and/or some kind of brace.

Don't halt your recovery program as soon as you start to feel some improvement or you run the risk of returning to square one. If you're told to ice three times a day, then ice three times a day! Follow through until you are actually proclaimed healed by Sports Medicine or a doctor, and even take precautions after that. A re-injury is unnecessary and infuriating, and could prevent you from competing. If you need to take a weekend off, then do it; your skipper or crew, coach, and teammates will understand that you need to rest now in order to shorten your recovery time.

Many injuries occur not on the water or in the gym but during leisure time, when you can easily be caught off-guard and suffer an unnecessary trauma. Wear proper footwear when you go out; open-toed shoes are dangerous in crowds and high-heels are treacherous anywhere. Any kind of piggyback ride is a bad idea for both parties involved. Stay on the ground—you can't fall too far if you don't climb too high, and falling is a quick way to take yourself out of competition with a concussion or a broken bone. If you're recovering from an injury and are supposed to be wearing any kind of brace or sleeve, wear it out! Remember, your long-term health takes priority over your temporary appearance. Don't wake up in the morning in a haze of pain-filled regret.

After breaking her foot this summer, Tufts senior Amelia Quinn is nearing the end of her road to rehabilitation. As of press time, she was at the hospital for her final set of X-rays. Find more of her blog entries here.