With summer right around the corner, many athletes and their parents will be preparing for sports team travel. Dr. Rachel Coel, Medical Director at The Queen’s Center for Sports Medicine, shares some simple tips to make the upcoming sports travel easier and safer.
Prepare for the right weather. Summer in other parts of the world is a common time for afternoon lightning and thunderstorms, very dry air, and higher temperatures than Hawaii. Check the weather forecast for your athlete’s destination and pack accordingly.
Be sure to include: breathable, lightweight workout clothes; a hat; sunglasses; sunscreen; a reusable water bottle; a light rain jacket; and a travel-size umbrella.
Coaches should consider holding practices first thing in the morning to avoid the heat of the day, and afternoon lightning and thunderstorms.
Stock up on sleep. The preparation for and traveling itself, is stressful, exhausting, and can prevent an athlete from getting the nightly recommended eight to nine hours of nighttime sleep. This sleep deprivation increases an athlete’s risk of injury!
In the days leading up to the trip: encourage your athlete to get lots of sleep, and start adjusting to the upcoming destination by waking and going to bed at the times corresponding to the new time zone.
Pack wisely. Over-packing can add unnecessary weight to luggage and increase the load on the shoulders and back.
Mix and match clothing in order to pack fewer items.
Also consider bringing: a small first aid kit; various sizes of re-closable plastic bags, which can be used as an ice pack for injuries or for wet clothes; a compact universal USB travel charger may prove to be a lifesaver for charging smartphones and tablets.
Prepare for time zone changes. Arriving well in advance of a sports event will help your athlete adapt to the weather or altitude, which can affect athletic performance.
If traveling across multiple time zones: Try to arrive several days in advance of the scheduled sports event. The arrival date should be calculated as one day early for every time zone crossed (for example, if the destination is three time zones away, plan to arrive three days early).
Consider giving your athlete melatonin at bedtime during the first 2-3 nights of travel to assist in falling and staying asleep.
Fuel well. Travel is often seen as an opportunity to explore and indulge, but be sure to provide your athlete’s body with the healthy nutrients and hydration it needs to perform at its best.
Pack a small, collapsible, insulated cooler bag: shop for healthy snacks at a local market and store on ice in the hotel room or on the sidelines.
Begin hydrating before travelling, and be mindful of water intake throughout the trip. Avoid excessive caffeine, candy, high salt foods, and fatty meals that may cause low energy, headaches, sleep disturbance, bloating, stomach upset or diarrhea.
The Queen’s Center for Sports Medicine provides comprehensive care for the treatment and prevention of sports injuries and conditions in athletes and active people of all ages. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call 808-691-4449 or request an appointment online.