Whether you’re a teen athlete’s parent or a weekend warrior, we can all use tips to keep our family healthy while exercising.

Tip 1: Take time to use the proper technique when stretching, and don’t forget to cool down to help prevent injuries. – Alicia Bromback, Athletic Trainer at Connor High School
Stretching is essential to improve your flexibility and reduce your injury risk. Relax into your stretches; don’t bounce. Cool down after a workout with some easy cardio so you don’t feel lightheaded from stopping abruptly.

Tip 2: Don’t tilt your head back during a nosebleed; keep your head forward. – Brad Bolte, Athletic Trainer at Ryle High School
Leaning back during a nosebleed can cause you to accidentally swallow blood. Instead, sit up straight with your head slightly forward and firmly pinch the nose just below the bone. Apply pressure for five minutes.

Tip 3: Use pain as a guide. If you experience pain or discomfort during athletic activity, consult your athletic trainer. – Chris Unkraut, Athletic Trainer at Covington Catholic High School
Pain is a message from your body that something is wrong, and you should take a break before it worsens. Your athletic trainer can help you identify improper training or gear use that could cause pain or strain. It’s better to take a short break and avoid a more serious injury than to play through pain and cause a bigger problem later.

Tip 4: Avoid energy drinks, which are high in caffeine and sugar and can promote dehydration during activity. – Dawna Panko, Clinical Athletic Trainer, St. Elizabeth Sports Medicine
While caffeine can provide a temporary energy boost, too much is problematic. Irritability, insomnia and increased blood pressure from too much caffeine can keep you off the field — and all the sugar in most sports and energy drinks can contribute to weight gain. Water is your best bet for hydration during exertion.

Tip 5: Proper nutrition and hydration aren’t just for game day; they’re for every day. – Erica Lanham, Athletic Trainer at Notre Dame Academy
It’s important to prepare before a game. But maintaining a healthy diet with a good balance of calories, carbs, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals will keep you in your best shape all season and all year. And don’t forget to stay well-hydrated throughout the day, every day.

Tip 6: Avoid sugary snacks and drinks. Instead, fill up with whole grains and lean meats to stay in the game. – Kelly Twehues, Athletic Trainer at Newport Central Catholic High School
Simple sugars provide calories, but they don’t give you vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Complex carbohydrates from pasta, whole-grain breads and rice provide energy, fiber and vitamins and minerals without a lot of fat. Choosing lean meats will give you protein without contributing to issues like weight gain or high cholesterol.

Tip 7: Stay active in the off season to perform better during the season. – Michelle Miller, Athletic Trainer at Villa Madonna Academy
Maintaining a good level of basic fitness all year will help you avoid early-season injuries from using muscles that haven’t been challenged for a while. Plus, living an active lifestyle has countless health benefits from prolonging your life to giving you more energy to helping you manage stress.

Tip 8: See your athletic trainer for all your bumps and bruises; don’t wait until an injury is serious. – Mike Bowling, Athletic Trainer at St. Henry District High School

Athletic trainers help athletes prevent injuries, deal with injuries that do happen and maintain proper levels of conditioning and fitness. They can recognize when an injury that appears minor is actually serious.

Tip 9: Just ice it. You can never go wrong with ice, but you can go wrong with heat. — Theresa Behan, Head Athletic Trainer at Thomas More College
The purpose of icing an injury is to reduce swelling and pain and limit bruising. Using heat for an acute injury can increase inflammation and delay healing.

Tip 10: Always use proper form and technique during weight training to avoid injuries. Your trainer is there to help! – Tyler Watson, Athletic Trainer at Holy Cross High School
Your athletic trainer can teach you the correct breathing techniques, how to balance weight and when to rest, as well as the appropriate amount of weight to lift for the muscles you want to work. This can help you prevent injuries for your specific sport.