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Habits of a Healthy Athlete

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athlete stretchingEating right and exercising regularly are recommended to live a healthy life from head to toe, but when you’re an athlete who wants to improve performance and avoid injuries, a healthy lifestyle entails far more than that!

As an athlete, healthy choices are a must if you want to stay in the game or reach that PR. Beyond a well-balanced, nutritious diet, you need to be aware of your carbohydrate vs. protein intake, limit sugar, fat, and processed foods, and know when to eat, not just what! Having multiple small meals throughout the day is better than eating three main courses. In addition, timing is everything – don’t eat too closely to the time of your work out or competition, and be sure to eat afterward. No skipping meals!

Other habits of a healthy athlete include:

Drinking lots of water – not only before and after exercise, but throughout the day every day to ensure your body stays hydrated.

Getting plenty of sleep. This is the time your body takes to make repairs and rest up – give it all the time it needs to be at your best!

Resting when your body tells you to – don’t push through pain! Avoid long-term problems by addressing issues as soon as they arise. For most overuse or nagging aches and tenderness, the R.I.C.E. method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) is all it takes to bounce back. Remember, a little time off now can save you from having to take a lot of time off later.

Paying attention to your footwear. Does it provide the cushion and support you need? Are your shoes worn out and need to be replaced? Are they appropriate for your sport?

Having a gait analysis done. Your gait is the way in which you stride and step and the key to performing at your best, especially if you are a runner. Foot structure and other factors can interfere with proper biomechanics, and when that happens, you are at a higher risk of injury. Custom orthotics can help correct abnormal biomechanics and alignment, not only reducing chance of injury, but also improving athletic performance – a good performance starts with good and proper form!

Cross-training. Incorporating low-impact activities -- like swimming, yoga, biking, or rowing -- into your routine works different muscles for better overall fitness as well as reduces repetitive stress on the same group of muscles, bones, and tissues. The result? Improved performance and reduced injury risk.

Warming up, cooling down, and building slowly. Don’t jump right into workouts, suddenly stop, or quickly increase intensity and duration. Patience is a virtue! You need to prepare muscles with a warm up, help them recover with a cool down, and slowly build your fitness to prevent injuries.

For more tips to stay healthy and injury-free, or if you need to make an appointment, call our Carmichael, CA office at (916) 961-3434. Here’s to your health!



Dr. Brian McDowell
Dr. Brian McDowell, board-certified podiatrist, provides cutting-edge foot and ankle care in Carmichael, CA.
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