Riverdale Takes Precautions Against Injuries Among Athletes
For many of Riverdale’s student athletes, sports are a valuable source of stress relief, social bonding, and simply a much-needed break from the strain of classes. It should come as no surprise that one of the greatest fears for many students is suffering an injury that could prevent them from participating in Riverdale athletics.
Sports-related injuries have become a sizeable concern at Riverdale that the school now has a team of professional athletic trainers with an expertise in education and treatment of all types of injuries that prevail among athletes. According to the Safety and Medical section on the athletics page of Riverdale’s website, “Athletic trainers are healthcare professionals who collaborate with physicians to optimize patient and client activity and participation in athletics, work, and life.” The description later specifies that the athletic trainers not only help with injury treatment, but also with prevention, diagnosis, and rehabilitation of injuries of all degrees, especially those related to the muscles or skeleton.
Muscle soreness makes up 23% of all injuries reported to the athletic training office. Ms. Lori Gill, the Director of Athletic Training, said the prevalence of this ailment can be attributed to students not practicing enough in between seasons, which is why it usually occurs during preseason, as athletes must readjust to daily exercise. Additionally, sprains, muscle strains, contusions (regions of tissue with ruptured capillaries), and concussions are extremely common. Together, these five types of injuries comprise 72% of all injuries treated by school athletic trainers.
Ms. Gill detailed a number of ways in which injuries such as those mentioned can be prevented. Consciousness for the physical care of one’s own body is vital, especially in the forms of nutrition, hydration, and adequate rest. Additionally, she believes athletes should emphasize “strength and conditioning workouts that focus on the demands of your sport and strengthen the muscles commonly injured in your specific sport.” Finally, it is important to recognize injuries and seek immediate treatment rather than trying to fight through it and play anyway. Ms. Gill also highlighted the work of Strength and Conditioning Coach Ms. Roberta MacIvor, who heads programs at Riverdale such as yoga and Winter Workout, in educating athletes on proper physical care and helping them to develop personalized exercise regimens.
In addition to education on injuries, Riverdale maximizes injury prevention by purchasing all the equipment that is necessary to ensure the safety of the athletes. Ms. Gill noted “the football team has one of the top helmets on the market.” This top-quality equipment is vital in keeping the players healthy, as concussions and head injuries are more common in football than most other sports. To ensure that the football players have all the help they need in case of injury, all football coaches are required to take a course through the independent non-profit USA Football in which they learn how to teach players specific blocking and tackling techniques that will not do any damage to the head.
Ms. Gill continued to explain that illness can also occur frequently from exercising in excessive cold or heat, and that coaches “heat acclimatize our football team during the hot summer months and build them up to the days they will be in full pads.” Ultimately, Ms. Gill believes that “injuries are going to happen no matter how much we try and prepare to prevent them,” but the Riverdale athletic department will do all that it can to protect students’ safety.