SkiTrax - - Contents - by Jack Cook and Pa­trick Moore

The im­por­tance of pre­vent­ing ill­ness in ath­letes is com­monly un­der­stood and pur­sued. As coaches, and as wax­ers, how­ever, it is equally im­por­tant that we con­sider and prac­tise good habits to pre­vent ill­ness within the staff. Given the close prox­im­ity in which wax­ers work and the gen­eral shar­ing of tools, viruses have a ten­dency to spread be­tween staff ex­tremely rapidly.

Be­ing a sick ath­lete on a race trip is not fun. You will be seg­re­gated to a sin­gle room, eat your meals alone and gen­er­ally spend your time rest­ing by your­self. Be­ing a sick waxer on a race trip is even worse. You will also be rel­a­tively seg­re­gated from the rest, will prob­a­bly eat your meals alone and end up spend­ing any free time by your­self. But un­like ath­letes who have the op­por­tu­nity to rest, you will still need to com­plete your reg­u­lar work. Here are some ways to avoid that un­for­tu­nate oc­cur­rence and stay healthy.

• Flu shot – Get one ev­ery year. It is not only for your ben­e­fit, but also for the health of those around you.

• Learn to cough/sneeze prop­erly – De­spite what your mother told you, do not cover your mouth with your hand. Cough or sneeze into your el­bow.

• Hand­shakes – Save your po­lite­ness for the spring. If you must shake hands, san­i­tize your hands im­me­di­ately af­ter (at the risk of of­fend­ing your friend).

• Hand san­i­tizer – Carry it in your pocket at all times. Keep a bot­tle in your car. Use it fre­quently.

• Hand clean­ing – Wash your hands reg­u­larly with soap and wa­ter or al­co­hol-based hand cleaner. As a doc­tor friend once told me, “Wash your hands A LOT. Like un­til they are chapped.” Key times to con­sider would be be­fore all meals, af­ter con­tact with the mouth and nose, and af­ter vis­it­ing the wash­room.

• Con­tact with sick peo­ple – Keep your dis­tance from peo­ple who are cough­ing, sneez­ing or have a runny nose. Try not to come closer than one me­tre (see hand­shakes, above).

• Sleep – Ap­pro­pri­ate rest is crit­i­cal in not only avoid­ing ill­ness, but also for re­cov­ery. Adopt prac­tices to fa­cil­i­tate qual­ity sleep. Down­load an app to fil­ter blue light on your de­vices. Or, bet­ter yet, close your screens at least one hour be­fore bed.

• Shar­ing drinks – Shar­ing your drink with some­one is gross, and will make you or them sick. The same ap­plies to drink belts, wa­ter bot­tles and eat­ing uten­sils.

• Com­mu­ni­ca­tion – At the first sign of ill­ness or feel­ing even slightly off, in­form the team leader im­me­di­ately so that a plan can be put in place to min­i­mize the spread of in­fec­tion.

• Vi­ta­min C – While the science is a bit weak, there is some ev­i­dence to sug­gest that 400-800mg of Vi­ta­min C per day may re­duce the risk of ill­ness in peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing heavy ex­er­tion.

Ev­ery­one on the team should pay as much at­ten­tion to rou­tines that pre­vent the trans­mis­sion of ill­ness from your­self to oth­ers, as from oth­ers to you. Prac­tise the same stan­dard of hy­giene and pre­ven­tion as you would ex­pect oth­ers to prac­tise to­ward you.

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