Who shouldn't play?
If you have a history of heart problems, you should probably avoid playing racquetball or squash. Also, if you are sick, even with a cold or the flu, you shouldn't participate in any strenuous exercise.
What if I'm out of shape?
If you're overweight or haven't exercised regularly, it's a good idea to see your doctor for a check-up before taking up racquet sports. If indoor racquet sports are new to you or if you haven't played in a while, you should prepare your body by exercising at least 1 to 3 weeks before you start playing. Begin with walking and/or biking and stretching for 15 to 20 minutes. You may also use light weights. Gradually build your workout up to 60 minutes, the average length of a racquetball or squash game.
How should I prepare myself for a game?
Your body will lose water as you play, so drink 16 to 32 ounces of fluid 1 to 2 hours before a game. Be sure to also drink plenty of fluids during and after the game. Special sports drinks are not necessary. Wear cotton clothing. Avoid rubberized "sweat suits." These suits cause you to lose more water than is healthy, and you may burn fewer calories.
Warm up by doing some stretches for your thigh and calf muscles. Then do some light calisthenics such as sit-ups, squats or push-ups, and walk briskly or jog in place for 5 to 10 minutes before playing.
What kind of eye protection do I need?
Prevent eye injuries by wearing adequate eye protection. Choose eye guards that have been certified by either the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or the American Standard of Testing and Materials (ASTM). You should not depend on your regular prescription glasses because they are not designed to give enough protection. Also, open eye guards don't protect your eyes well enough.
What do I need to do during the game to protect myself from injury?
- Don't ignore cramps, pain or fatigue. Most major injuries result when a player keeps playing after an injury.
- Always allow at least 1 1/2 feet between you and your opponent during play.
- Hold your swing or stop play if you think you might hit your opponent with the ball or racquet.
- Many injuries occur when one player is more experienced than the other. If you are the more experienced player, keep your guard up and tone down your shots. If you are the less experienced player, do not expect to defeat your opponent by taking unnecessary chances.
- Learn from your opponent's tactics and safety measures.
What about after the game?
Allow time for a proper cool down. Jumping into a hot shower or running out to the car right after a game can upset your body's normal sweating system. During the cool down period, repeat the stretching exercises you did before the game.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff