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In today’s age of health and fitness, more and more kids are involved in sporting activities. Although being part of a football, soccer or Little League team is an important rite of passage for many children, parents and their children could be overlooking the importance of proper nutrition and body-conditioning needed for preventing injuries on and off the playing field.
The majority, if not all, sports are good, provided that the child prepares appropriately,” says Timothy Ray, DC, a member of the American Chiropractic Association’s Council on Sports Injuries and Physical Fitness. “Without proper preparation, playing any sport can turn into a bad experience. There are structural and physical developmental issues that need to be taken into consideration before children undertake certain sports.” Highly competitive sports such as football, gymnastics and wrestling follow rigorous training schedules that can be potentially dangerous to an adolescent or teenager. The best advice for parents who have young athletes in the family is to help them prepare their bodies and to learn to protect themselves from sports related injuries before they happen. “Proper warm up, stretching and strength-training exercises are essential for kids involved in sports, but many kids learn improper stretching or weight-lifting techniques, making them more susceptible to injury,” says Steve Horwitz, DC, an ACA member from Silver Spring, Md., and former member of the U.S. Summer Olympic medical team. “Parents need to work with their kids and make sure they receive the proper sports training.” “Young athletes should begin with a slow jog as a general warm-up, followed by a sport-specific warm-up. They should then stretch all the major muscle groups,” says Dr. Horwitz. “Kids need to be instructed in appropriate exercises for each sport to prevent injuries.”
Proper nutrition and hydration are also extremely vital. “While an ordinary person may need to drink eight to 10 8-ounce glasses of water each day, athletes need to drink even more than that for proper absorption. Breakfast should be the most important meal of the day. Also, eating a healthy meal two to four hours before a practice or a game and another within one to two hours after a game or practice allows for proper replenishment and refuels the body,” adds Dr. Horwitz.
Young athletes today often think they are invincible. The following tips can help ensure your child does not miss a step when it comes to proper fitness, stretching, training and rest that the body needs to engage in sporting activities.
Encourage your child to: