For many kids, back to school means back to sports. For adults, too, the cooler weather of the approaching autumn can spark a renewed interest in the tennis rackets that spent the sweltering days of summer languishing in the garage, or the running shoes gathering dust in the closet.
Because sports are seasonal, we don’t always think of practicing year round (unless we’re professional athletes!). But conditioning shouldn’t be seasonal. Helping muscles keep their memory is important for athletes of every age and every sport. Continuing to pursue the sport you’re passionate about even in the off season can help in all seasons.
Whether you’re getting your kids ready for their favorite fall sport or taking one up yourself, there are some simple things to be aware of so you can be in tip-top shape throughout the season. Start with the basics by choosing the right footwear for the activity. Different sports demand different footwear, and the even within a sport there can be different footwear requirements. For example, in football, mid-cut cleats are the most commonly worn cleat, but low-cut cleats are also used, especially for positions focusing on speed. Along with football, cleats are the primary footwear in soccer, but many players own non-cleated shoes too. Podiatry Today writes that “similar to snow versus road tires, each type [of shoe] is designed for a specific playing surface and should only be used on that surface.” This is similarly essential for other athletes such as runners. The style of shoe should match the terrain and course.
It’s important to evaluate an individual’s feet when considering which shoes to exercise in. According to Podiatry Today, some coaches and teams have preferences for certain shoe brands and models, but sometimes they don’t fit correctly. It’s better to go with what feels good to you.
Also, for children whose feet grow quickly, it can be tempting to use hand-me-down athletic footwear. But each individual has a different gate cycle, and different activities within a sport (offense vs defense, for example) can cause shoes to wear differently. Though it might seem reasonable in the short term, in the long run it’s always better to have quality shoes that have been fit for you by a professional.
Participating in sports is good for both the mind and body. But it’s important to set limits. Don’t forget to set aside time for recovery and relaxation, and give your body the tools it needs for training and recovering — including proper apparel, nutritious food, plenty of water, and some time set aside just for having fun.