It's that time of year. Fall sports are in full swing. Hopefully you had a productive pre-season that prepared you for the fall. Here are some tips to keep players safe and injury free this fall.

Fitness: If you weren't in shape going into pre-season, hopefully you survived it without any injuries. If you did sustain an injury in pre-season, make sure you address it now as it will only linger and will likely get worse during the season. Next summer, make sure you get in shape prior to pre-season in order to avoid the same problems.

Overuse Injuries: Stress fractures, shin splints, tendonitis, etc These all occur because of ramping up intensity too quickly. Two and three a day practices on hard fields or indoor courts after a summer off are a recipe for disaster for overuse injuries. If you sustained an injury during pre-season, you need to be evaluated by your athletic trainer as playing through it never works and almost always makes the injury worse and prolongs recovery.

Heat Illness: This is a hot topic. The myth of hydrating is finally being dispelled. You should drink when you are thirsty and not be forced to drink excessive fluids. But, you also need to be allowed to drink freely and coaches cannot restrict fluid intake either. And sports drinks, they're not really needed. Water is the best along with meals that include some salty food to replace the electrolytes lost during training. For players with cramping, sweat testing can be done to assess the cause and how to replace fluids and electrolytes appropriately. The Heat Institute at West Chester University is a local facility that can perform sweat testing with the appropriate replenishment recommendations.

Concussions: I don't think we need to talk too much about concussions as we all know the significance of these injuries. Any concussion should be taken seriously and needs to be evaluated by your team's athletic trainer and a physician who specializes in concussion evaluation and management. The current medical guidelines from the most recent consensus statement say "no return to play on the day of concussive injury should occur." And the "athlete would take approximately 1 week to proceed through the full rehabilitation protocol once they are asymptomatic at rest and with provocative exercise."  Please take concussions seriously as athletes can suffer lifelong post-concussive symptoms if not managed appropriately.

Best of luck to all of the athletes and their teams this fall. Hopefully we only see you in the newspaper and not in the athletic training room or physician's office.

Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.