WARNING: If you plan on playing intramural basketball or being a part of the frisbee team this fall, make sure not to get injured. Not only does getting hurt suck enough on its own, but you also won’t have access to that nice athletic trainer you had in high school. Man, those were the days: they stretched you out before practice, gave you ice packs (on ice packs on ice packs), and even let you use the foam roller at your leisure… and you totally took it for granted.
At Brown, things are different for the athletic student who’s not quite varsity status, and the future of your “A” game now rests in the hands of Health Services (don’t get me wrong: they’re the nicest, but not so great at this stuff), or in those of a local expensive orthopedic surgeon. That said, if you’re a non-varsity athlete, you have to be wise and take care of yourself. Yes, that means you, kid who is still drunk at Sunday morning’s game.
Here are some ways to start preserving your livelihood so you can maintain your competitive edge:
STRETCH: This one couldn’t be more obvious or important—even if you’re playing a 40-minute intramural game, make sure your muscles are loose so they don’t bathe in lactic acid and become stiff the next day. Many muscular issues can be traced back to your lack of commitment to doing those pigeons, butterflies, or toe touches. Remember that these can be fun and relaxing if you put aside enough time for them… just like readings or showering are.
GET THE RIGHT GEAR: I know, shinguards, mouthguards, and everyguards are the worst, but the temporary irritation (and yes, the embarrassment) is worth it. Sure, they’re annoying and ugly. But if you don’t opt for the protection, you’ll instantly go from padded and protected to black and blue. Don’t worry—there are people (like me) who wear concussion-preventing headbands. You’re bound to look cooler than we do.
DRINK WATER: There’s no excuse not to. The Brown Bookstore has many different shiny water bottles that will complement your new Herschel backpack—or whatever it is that the kids are wearing these days—so you can get excited about having liquids on you at all times. Plus, think about how many points you can save by forgoing that Nantucket Nectars drink you get at the Blue Room during lunch! Maybe this semester, your balance will survive long past the deadline to add a course (October 2nd, everybody).
IF SOMETHING HURTS, STOP: Don’t push it. There are no scouts watching you, no intense high school coaches telling you to “just get it wrapped,” and no rewards in overdoing it. If you’re tempted to run on that swollen knee, just remember that you’re going to have to walk to class tomorrow, and limping up the Main Green isn’t the best way to get to Lower Salomon.
SLEEP: Sleep is very, very crucial to self-preservation. It’s the only time your body has to focus on repairing the damage you’ve done to it. If you’re feeling the toll of physical exertion, get a good night’s sleep. Catching up on “Breaking Bad” can wait; take a long snooze and wake up feeling like you’re 16.
SOB-OP (SOBRIETY OPTIONAL) WITH CAUTION: This one is fairly self-explanatory. If you’re going to engage in this fun, yet obviously hazardous custom, please do so with something weak. It can be more like a gesture than an actually-not-seeing-straight-while-playing-softball sort of thing.
IF YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT GOING FOR THE HEADBUTT AGAINST THAT REALLY TALL KID… DON’T: Keep your cool on the field/court/diamond. No moment of rage is worth how you’re going feel after. If you’re playing your sport like you’re out for blood, there’s probably some other stressor that’s on your mind. Being aggressive won’t solve your problems—instead, do yoga in the Hillel if you want to slide tackle the other team’s outside mid. You’ll be just as close to the earth, and more at peace with the math test that got you so worked up in the first place.
Bottom line: before you find yourself begging the varsity trainer to see you for just a milli-second even when you know he or she won’t do it, you should take care of your body. You’ve only got one.