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.