COLUMBUS – As school districts and athletic leagues plan to resume practices and reopen schools for the fall after COVID-19 closures, the specialty-trained sports medicine doctors at Southern Indiana Orthopedics offer guidance for protecting the health and safety of local student-athletes.

Athletes or parents and guardians seeking specialized bone, joint and muscle care are encouraged to call 812-376-9353 to schedule a safe appointment in Columbus, North Vernon, Seymour or Greensburg. For acute injuries, the practice’s Orthopedic Urgent Care walk-in clinic remains open in Columbus at 940 N. Marr Road, Suite C. Telehealth visits are also available.

“Student-athletes’ safety in the game and out in the world is our highest priority,” Dr. Cary Guse, fellowship-trained, board-certified sports medicine surgeon at Southern Indiana Orthopedics, said. “To ensure they have the safest transition possible back to their school and sports activities, my colleagues and I have developed a comprehensive list of strategies and principles to keep in mind as athletics resume.”

Many student-athletes have already been able to start getting active again as athletic programs throughout the region resume limited sports participation. Athletes should exercise caution to not only reduce the risk of viral spread in groups but also to reduce the risk of injury by adhering to these guidelines:

  • Know your school or league’s best practices and follow them:
    • In addition to maintaining social and physical distancing as best as possible and respecting guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, players, parents and coaches should follow any state, local, school, league and venue regulations set to combat the spread of COVID-19.
  • Complete a sports physical:
    • While many schools and leagues require a pre-participation physical before sports and school seasons resume, athletes should get a physical from a medical professional as soon as possible even if they’re training individually to ensure the safety of their conditioning and intensity of their workouts.
  • Take it slow:
    • As state COVID-19–related guidelines have restricted the activity levels of many, athletes should slowly and cautiously increase their training and skill-building exercises. Cardiovascular and muscular strength may be inhibited from months of indoor sheltering, and it is important to pay attention to your limits and pains to avoid injury, illness or immunosuppression. Building strength and endurance takes time, and even athletes who have remained active will have an adjustment period.
  • Use extra precautions in the heat:
    • With summer picking up, the risk of heat-related illness is high, especially for those who have remained indoors while following local COVID-19 guidelines. Athletes may need to slowly acclimate themselves to sun and heat and should stretch before activities, stay hydrated and keep primarily to shaded areas.
  • Make personal health and hygiene priority:
    • Maintain a proper diet, drink plenty of water and fluids and do not overtrain. You should also practice good hygiene by washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, wearing face coverings when appropriate as well as avoiding close physical contact with those outside of your household.

    “We understand that athletes, as well as their parents and coaches, feel ready for athletics and regular activities to come back, and we also know that this comes with a number of risks, including injury,” Dr. Guse said. “We are here for local athletes, and we provide high-level, specialized care and rehabilitative plans for pain and injuries to ensure a safe return to play.”

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