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Health Tracking Fit for a Pro

How Wearable Tech Can Keep Athletes Injury-Free

Professional athletes use wearable health tracking devices a little differently than the average health-conscious person. And yet, the rise of wearable tracking devices is impacting their lives – and livelihoods – just as much.

Sports are experiencing a technology boom and analytics are of increasingly popular interest to fans and front offices alike. More than half of all professional American football teams monitor players during training camps and practices, tracking speeds, exertion and fatigue.

In addition to helping target and enhance player performance, wearable technology may also improve injury prevention at high levels. When trainers and coaches have access to bio- and performance metrics, they can adjust workload, preparation and recovery accordingly to minimize risk. For example, when one player had a history of hamstring injuries, his coaches used tracking data to monitor his workload and increase the efficiency of his workouts. He subsequently made it through the season injury-free.

Smart clothing is on the horizon too, with some teams testing out high-tech workout attire that uses motion sensors, breathing sensors and electromyography (electrodes that record muscle activity) to track biometric data like heart rate, breathing, effort and muscle activation.

While most of this technology is a long way from being allowed during competition, it’s still shaping professional sports to create more health conscious, injury-free leagues.

Moreover, you don’t have to be fitted with pro-level wearable tech to stay strong and healthy as an athlete yourself. Here are 7 ways you can stay competition ready:

  1. Remember to Stretch: Whether you’re a flag football enthusiast or going for a bike ride around the lake, remember to stretch. Better flexibility may help improve your athletic performance and decrease your risk of injury. It also increases blood flow to your muscles.
  2. Ice (And Then Heat) Inflammation: Feeling sore after a practice or game? Apply ice to decrease the initial inflammation and then, after 48 hours, switch to heat to open up the blood vessels for added relief.
  3. Respond to Signs of Concussion: Anyone can suffer a concussion, so know the signs and symptoms and consult your physician. Avoid too much too soon, get plenty of rest and be sure to follow return to play protocol.
  4. Sports medicine: If you’re nursing an injury, be sure to seek advice from a board-certified sports medicine specialist who can help you recover and reach your peak performance.
  5. Watch What You Eat and Drink: Whether you’re training for a marathon or getting ready for a big soccer game, it’s important to eat the right combination of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Drink plenty of fluids and replenish electrolytes lost as you sweat.
  6. Get Enough Z’s: Physical activity can take a lot out of you so aim for eight to 10 hours of sleep every night for optimum health. Sleep tracking wristbands can help to estimate the amount – and quality - of sleep you’re getting.
  7. Manage Your Time: To-do lists, planners and daily reminders on your smartphone will help you to balance home and work life with your sports schedule. With late night practices and weekend games, there’s a lot to manage.