Summer is winding down, and for many of us, that means we are getting ready to head back to school. Some of you may be heading to college for the first time, ready to dive into the world of dining halls, competing on the road, and learning how to navigate the world of collegiate athletics. Those of you who are further along in your college career may have already experienced these milestones and are looking to come to campus more prepared. Whether you are an experienced college athlete or an incoming freshman, these are the 10 dorm must haves we recommend for all athletes.
- Whole food based bars
Your schedule is likely going to be busier than it was during the summer between classes, practice, clubs, etc. It’s super important to have portable snacks so you always have food on hand in between your activities. Our favorite whole food based bars are pack protein, carbs, and healthy fats. Download our free packaged performance snack guide to see our picks!
- Muscle roller
Just the trick when a massage is not in the budget. Depending on the location of aches and pains, a few different types of muscle rollers may help relieve those kinks. A mini foam roller may work to relieve tightness in larger muscles in the legs and hard to reach muscles in the back. The stick is great for getting a little more intensity in muscles like your quads and calves; it also fits nicely in a travel bag for away competition. And when in doubt, a lacrosse ball does wonders at rolling out knots and the soles of the feet to release tension.
- Natural sleep aids
We all know that sleep is important, but sometimes it just doesn’t come easy, making natural sleep aids a dorm must have. When you feel like you’ve tried everything, from avoiding caffeine 6 hours before bedtime to limiting blue light exposure at night, check out a couple of our recommended sleep aids below:
- While magnesium is found in many whole foods, such as whole grains, greens, nuts, seeds and legumes, athletes can be vulnerable to deficiency since magnesium is lost in sweat. Magnesium can help improve sleep quality, as well as aid in recovery and relaxation. We recommend Thorne Magnesium Bisglycinate since it is high quality and NSF certified for sport. HOWEVER, please note that we do recommend reviewing all supplements with a sports dietitian.
- Warm non caffeinated drinks, like chamomile or peppermint tea, may help you to relax and unwind at the end of a long day. Avoid caffeinated tea, such as black, white, or green teas, four to six hours before bed.
- Water bottle
We already know the importance of both recycling and hydration, so if you’re not on the reusable water bottle bandwagon, hop on! Not only does carrying a water bottle reduce plastic use, but it also makes it more convenient AND less expensive for you to stay hydrated. You can fill up at the dining hall/cafeteria, water fountains on campus, and in our experience, baristas at coffee shops are usually friendly and will refill your water bottle for you!
- Heating pad
You’ll be happy you have this- we guarantee it. From joint and muscle aches to cramps, a good heating pad can deliver relief pretty quickly. There are different sizes like this one for more targeted relief or this wearable one. If you have access to a microwave and a freezer, this can double as a heating or cooling pad.
- Shelf stable milk
If you don’t have access to a large refrigerator, shelf stable milk or soy milk will come in clutch for a post-workout or pre-bedtime protein source. Not only is milk rich in protein, but it is also rich in calcium, which is a crucial mineral for bone health. While more evidence is needed on the specific calcium needs for athletes, we do know that adequate calcium intake is one factor important for both long and short term bone health.
- Protein options
When we think about protein, we typically think about the refrigerated kinds (animal protein, dairy, eggs). While you may be able to fit some yogurt, cheese, and a sandwich in the fridge, there are other portable options that do not require refrigeration, such as roasted edamame, pistachios, and salmon/tuna pouches. We will again refer you to our free packaged performance snack guide to see more of our favorite portable protein options.
- Sleep mask
This one is pretty self explanatory but highly recommended. Whether you are on a long bus ride, need a quick mid-afternoon nap, or have a roommate that leaves the lights on, you’ll be happy you have this handy.
- Mindfulness/meditation apps
Being a student athlete is incredibly rewarding, but no one is going to say it’s easy to juggle athletics, academics, and a social life. Whether you are looking to focus for finals, calm your mind before a competition, or unwind before bed, there are many mindfulness/meditation apps that can be a great resource to busy student athletes. Some of our favorites include Calm, Headspace, and MindSport.
All you need is some hot water. That’s it. Add some nuts/seeds from your portable protein options above plus some fruit from the dining hall, and you have the carb base for post workout fuel, a quick breakfast on the go, or even a bedtime snack.
Is there anything else you can’t live without as a college athlete? Let us know what your other dorm must haves are in the comments!