The key to staying injury-free
If there's one thing I've learned about playing Division I basketball, it's that it can certainly takes a toll on your body. Spending nearly three hours a day doing some type of physical activity, whether it's practice, weights, or a game, is a lot for anyone!
Taking care of your body is very important. That said, here at Duke our training room is always poppin! Before practice and after practice there's always someone getting some type of treatment.
Every day before practice the team is in the training room. Some of us are in there up to an hour before practice using the hot tub, heat packs, e-stim (electrical stimulation), icy hot, stretching or getting taped. Summer McKeehan, our athletic trainer, always stays busy.
Getting your body adjusted to the physical strain of college workouts doesn't come easy. The first few weeks of summer workouts were definitely a struggle physically and mentally for the freshman. I wasn't able to participate due to my knee, but I remember clearly watching workouts and feeling their pain. I would think to myself, "I don't know if I'm going to survive this when the time comes!"
My teammates would leave practice barely able to walk, complaining about soreness for days and dying for an ice bath. After a while their bodies got use to it and the soreness lessened or at least became bearable.
Now that I'm back to playing, it seems like I'm experiencing the same struggles they did. During my first week back practicing after sitting out eight months, my body was sore in places I didn't know existed! When Summer asked how I felt, I told her, "My calves feel like rocks, my hamstrings feel like guitar strings, and I feel like I've been hit by a train. But my knee feels great (which is all I really cared about)!"
I've been practicing for about a month now so it's not as bad anymore, but I definitely have a new appreciation for the ice bath. After practice, ice baths are always the go-to. I use to despise the cold tub when I first got to Duke, screaming and gripping a towel in my mouth every time I got in. But now, I take it like a champ.
After a long practice one day, while in the cold tub with some teammates, I was dared to go head under. At first, there was no way I was doing it, but after being offered $2 by some teammates, that was just enough motivation for me to go for it. So like a champ, I did an Olympic-worthy side dive head first into the freezing water. For a split second I regretted the decision, but when I came up to chanting, cheering teammates, it made it worth it. I was completely numb afterwards so it didn't bother me doing about three more dunks with Haley [Peters], Tricia [Liston] and Jenna [Frush], who decided to go for the plunge as well.
Taking care of your body is very important being a college athlete, and although ice baths aren't very popular, they're definitely a great way to help your body recover. Although my full body ice bath was most likely a one-time experience, I can't deny I felt pretty refreshed afterwards.
Besides the access we have to all the amazing treatments in our training room, I have to say we also have a pretty awesome cater, Sam, who cooks for us too. We have "training table" everyday after practice. The food is delicious and healthy.
Athletes have to take care of their bodies. I realize now how important it is to eat right and to stay strong. Our bodies take a lot of abuse on the court and we have to stay in the best possible shape to stay healthy and injury-free, as well as be competitive at a DI level.