Tips on a safe transition from shelter to sport


Below are tips I developed with my sports medicine team at Stanford Children’s Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Clinics to help our athletes transition safely back to sport as they emerge from shelter in place restrictions.

My sports medicine clinics are quiet and it makes me nervous. Sure, I’m nervous because that’s yet another sign of our hurting economy, but I’m equally, if not more, nervous because it means many athletes are less active or active in different ways and I fear their return could be an injurious one.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world to come to a screeching halt and a “new normal” has slowly been established in homes with shelter in place. One of the many challenges is finding a way to stay physically active with limited resources. Some athletes have access to safe roads and trails during the pandemic, while others do not, leading to major differences in their current fitness levels and baseline volume.

The best transition back to sport is individualized to the athlete, however there are some general tips that coaches, athletes (and parents of athletes) can follow to ensure the eventual return is as safe as possible. Below are tips to safely transition back to sport as athletes emerge from shelter in place restrictions.

Greater strength often translates to better performance and is one of the most proven and effective ways of building a body that’s more resilient to injury. Staying strong is important during extended periods between sports or when sheltering in place in the current pandemic times.

Set yourself up for success in season and out of season with these strength tips.

Below are additional stretching and stabilization exercises, ideally performed 1-2x/day.

Remember soreness while increasing training volume and load is to be expected. If the soreness lingers longer than 24-48 hours, and/or stays very localized to one location, contact a sports medicine physician before proceeding with training.

Another important topic in the time of COVID-related stressors is mental health. Anxiety and stress can significantly affect training, recovery, sleep, and overall mood. Below are some tips to help athletes focus on mental health during the pandemic.

The transition back to a “new normal” is going to be full of new challenges and potential setbacks. Use this time to build a strong foundation, practice mindfulness and meditation, experiment with new healthy recipes, and avoid unnecessary injuries with gradual increases in volume and intensity. If you have additional questions or need guidance navigating through an injury, don’t be afraid to reach out. My passion is in keeping athletes doing the activities they love doing as safely as possible!

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Emily Kraus

Sports medicine physician with a passion in endurance sports medicine, the female athlete, bone health, and injury prevention.
Running, Cycling, Trail Running, Gravel Biking, Mountain Biking
Stanford, CA