Take your health to the end zone.

Fall brings crunching leaves, cooler temperatures — and football season. If you’re gearing up for the big game, it’s important to pay attention to your health, as an injury or illness could leave you on the sidelines. Young athletes are especially at risk, so coaches, parents and players should work together to make health and safety — rather than the scoreboard — the team’s number-one priority.

Prepare before the first practice

The key to a great season is ensuring you are strong and healthy. You should work on conditioning and aerobic exercises well before the season starts to build up strength, flexibility and endurance. This will help you play better and can prevent injuries on the field.

You should also have a physical examination before the season begins. All WellNow Urgent Care locations offer sports physicals starting at just $30. Our providers will ensure you are ready for the months ahead by performing a head-to-toe examination and filling out the paperwork you need for your school or athletic organization.

Safety first

Football is a high-contact sport, which means wearing the proper protective equipment is essential for preventing serious injuries. Invest in high-quality leg and shoulder padding, as well as a mouthguard. Make sure you are wearing a helmet that meets safety standards and fits you well, as this can help protect you from brain injuries like concussions.

If you do hit your head during practice or a game, make sure you’re examined by a doctor who is well-trained in diagnosing and treating head injuries. WellNow offers a brain health assessment tool, BrainScope® One at select locations to ensure you receive the treatment you need.

Tackle your thirst

Make sure to drink water before, during and after every game and practice. Remember: Feeling thirsty is an indication that you are already dehydrated. If you are sweating profusely, a sports drink can help replenish your electrolytes, but drink these in moderation as they can be high in sugar and calories.

Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day, and even on rest days, to make sure you are continually hydrating, as dehydration can affect your energy, your performance and your health.

Defend your health

Any sport will bring you into close contact with your teammates and opponents — football especially. In addition, you will be sharing equipment. That means football players may be especially prone to picking up illnesses such as colds and flu.

To keep your health in prime condition, avoid sharing towels or other personal items with your teammates. Make sure all equipment, padding and uniforms are disinfected on a regular basis. Maintain a balanced diet high in vitamin C and antioxidants to bolster your immune system. And if you do feel a cold or flu coming on, check in to your nearest WellNow facility for quick, convenient care that will get you back on the field in no time.

Sideline safety

Football season is just as exciting for the fans as it is for the athletes. If you’re watching from the stands this season, make sure to dress for the weather. Bring layers and blankets to keep warm as the temperature drops. Bring along plenty of water — you can still get dehydrated in colder temperatures.

Taking care of yourself and your health is the first step toward having your best season yet. When you need quick and convenient care so you don’t miss the big game, stop by your nearest WellNow facility.