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Best Holiday Gifts for Athletes

Posted 11/30/2016 by UHBlog

Want to help your special athlete feel like a pro? The right healthy holiday gift can do that. From advice on everything from working out like a champ to hydration and nutrition, talk to us.

Best Holiday Gifts for Athletes

Now you can give the perfect holiday gift to your favorite fitness friend – or yourself. From the inexpensive to the spot-on, our sports medicine specialists, physical therapists and certified strength and conditioning specialists offer eight suggestions for some of the best healthy gifts to give and receive:

  1. What’s the one “gift” every athlete could use more of?
    “More time to exercise,” says sports medicine specialist Sean Cupp, MD.
    You can help your special athlete get their workout in, Dr. Cupp says, by:
    • Working out with them and being an accountability buddy if they lack motivation
    • Taking over the caregiving roles (i.e., aging parents, young children) on certain days and times each week to free up your friend
    • Paying the monthly fees for online fitness or workout classes that can be done 24/7 when it's most convenient for them
    • Learning full-body exercise routines together that help build strength by hitting more than one body part per movement so that workouts are done in less time. Once you know the routine, it's easier for each of you to work out on your own.
  2. A motivational poster – preferably one depicting a favorite athlete from a sport your friend most enjoys – that includes an inspirational quote, says physical therapist Paul M. Smith, PT, MS, AT, CGFI.
    “Typically, the most difficult part of reaching one's goal is first to set a specific goal, then establish the steps to attain this goal and, finally, having the energy to work on those steps and goals every day,” he says. It's been said, 'The hardest part about working out (or insert any goal here) is showing up!' That poster hung in a conspicuous spot where it's seen every day will push the athlete to accomplish another step toward whatever goal they set.”
  3. A healthy selection of pre-workout food or drink is often appreciated by athletes, says sports medicine specialist Christopher Tangen, DO.
    “Proper nutrition is often the best gift for an athlete,” he says. In fact, proper nutrition helps prevent sore muscles and gives your body the energy, power and strength it needs to perform during an activity.
  4. Give gifts to help your athlete stay hydrated or keep them focused while traveling, suggests sports medicine specialist Susannah M. Briskin MD.
    “A good quality water bottle that keeps beverages cold is a great and easy gift for an athlete,” she says. “I also like portable exercise equipment that does not take up much space and is multifunctional – such as a TRX trainer. They can go anywhere and you can get an excellent core, upper body and lower body workout in a small space, including when you travel.”
  5. If your athlete complains of muscle pain, consider either of these options: some type of soft tissue mobility device – massage stick, a foam roller or vibrating handheld massager – or deep tissue therapy massage from a licensed massage therapist.
    “I like the soft tissue mobility device because often I see the former athlete in the clinic and they present with muscle tightness, fascia tightness and/or old muscle strains that need some attention,” says certified strength and conditioning specialist Brian Magat, DPT, ATC, MS, CSCS. “The mobility device is an easy way to provide self-tissue mobilization. Or, if you're not as flexible for the devices, you can see a licensed massage therapist to provide deep tissue mobility. Either of these is great for the patient/athlete to help prevent future muscle strains and keep muscles and joints mobile.”
  6. If your fitness friend is a runner, consider giving a gift card/certificate to a running specialty shoe store, such as Fleet Feet or Second Sole, says senior physical therapist Yazmin Torres.
    “These stores have personnel who are trained in footwear and will help the athlete purchase the correct shoes for running or whatever sport he’s involved in,” Torres says. “It’s important with any sport to have the proper equipment, especially the proper shoes, because it can help prevent injuries. Employees at specialty sport stores have the background and training to help guide the athlete in buying the equipment and apparel that supports their goals and fitness level.”
  7. Support your friend's athletic passion with a gift card or gym membership or by giving a fitness tracking device, such as a Fitbit or Garmin, suggests sports medicine specialist Amanda Weiss Kelly, MD.
    For instance, if the athlete likes scuba diving, surfing, swimming and/or rock climbing, give them a gift card to a specialty store or a gym membership to a gym that specializes in their preferred sport, Dr. Weiss Kelly says.
    For goal-minded people, the fitness tracking device is a motivator.
    “The device helps you set and achieve goals by reminding you to get up if you’ve been sitting down or encouraging activity when daily or weekly goals aren’t met,” she says. “They can also show improvements in your speed/time during runs or walks.”
  8. If the athlete on your gift list would appreciate improving the community while working out, there are many opportunities to help, says sports medicine specialist Mary Solomon, DO.
    “A friend or family member may be honored by a charitable donation to groups that support athletes,” she says. “Girls on the Run is a program that encourages young ladies to work together to develop and meet positive goals while reinforcing self-esteem and learning to run a 5K. Young athletes are always in need of financial support and the girls benefit from group programs that teach topics such as personal growth and development, team work and positive self body image. Many community runs and races also offer charitable donations and sponsorship to those runners who work to raise money to promote health, cancer research and foundations – or for those who run in memory of a loved one.”

Our Experts

Susannah M. Briskin MD is a pediatric sports medicine physician at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

Sean Cupp, MD is a sports medicine specialist and sports medicine co-director at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, lead medical team physician for the Cleveland Browns, and associate director, Sports Medicine Institute at University Hospitals.

Brian Magat, DPT, ATC, MS, CSCS, is a physical therapist at University Hospitals Rehabilitation Services.

Paul M. Smith, PT, MS, AT, CGFI, is a physical therapist, Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) certified golf fitness instructor and sports rehabilitation manager at University Hospitals Mayfield Village Health Center.

Mary Solomon, DO is a sports medicine specialist at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

Christopher Tangen, DO is a primary care sports medicine specialist at University Hospitals Regional Hospitals Richmond Campus, University Hospitals Regional Hospitals Family Medicine Center-Warrensville Campus, and an associate medical team physician for the Cleveland Browns.

Yazmin Torres, PT, DPT, is a senior physical therapist at University Hospitals Sports Rehabilitation at Mandel Jewish Community Center.

Amanda Weiss Kelly, MD is the division chief, Pediatric Sports Medicine at UH Cleveland Medical Center and the division chief, Pediatric Sports Medicine at UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital.

You can request an appointment with one of the above specialists or any UH physician online.

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