In today’s age of health and fitness, more and more kids are involved in sporting activities. Although being part of a football, soccer, dance, 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 for preventing injuries on and off the playing field.
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:
- Wear the proper equipment. Certain contact sports, such as football and hockey, can be dangerous if the equipment is not properly fitted. Make sure all equipment, including helmets, pads, and shoes fit your child or adolescent.
- Eat healthy meals. Make sure your young athlete is eating a well-balanced diet and does not skip meals. Avoid high fat foods, such as candy bars and fast food. At home, provide fruit rather than cookies and vegetables rather than potato chips. Make sure meals are high in protein to help with muscle breakdown.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Certain sports, such as gymnastics, wrestling, and figure skating may require your athlete to follow strict dietary rules. Be sure your child does not feel pressured into being too thin and that he/she understands that proper nutrition and caloric intake is needed for optimal performance and endurance.
- Drink water. Hydration is a key element to optimal fitness. Teenage athletes should drink at least eight 8-oz glasses of water a day.
- Avoid sugar-loaded, caffeinated, and carbonated drinks. Sports drinks are a good source of replenishment for those kids engaged in long duration sports, such as track and field.
- Follow a warm-up routine. Be sure your child or his/her coach includes a warm-up and stretching session before every practice, game, or meet. I’m always amazed at how many athletes we treat that tell me they never warm up! A slow jog, jumping rope, and/or lifting small weights reduces the risk of torn or ripped muscles. Flexibility is key when pushing to score that extra goal or make that critical play.
- Take vitamins daily. A multivitamin and magnesium are good choices for the young athlete. Young athletes use their bodies in an incredible way and if nutrients aren’t properly replenished you can be prone to muscle injuries.
- Avoid trendy supplements. Kids under the age of 18 should avoid the use of performance-enhancing supplements, such as creatine. Instead, they should ask their coach or trainer to include weekly weight training and body-conditioning sessions in their workout.
- Get plenty of rest. Eight hours of sleep is ideal for the young athlete. Lack of sleep and rest can decrease performance. Sluggishness, irritability, and loss of interest could indicate that your child is fatigued.
Chiropractic Care Can Help
Doctors of chiropractic are trained and licensed to treat the entire neuromusculoskeletal system and can provide advice on sports training, nutrition, and injury prevention to young athletes. When an athlete sustains an injury, a doctor of chiropractic can help speed recovery and instruct the young athlete on how to avoid a repeat injury.
Doctors of chiropractic are also certified to perform school spots physicals. If you have questions about your young athlete and how to help them perform better or stay injury free, talk to one of the doctors at Minser Chiropractic today!