For most parents, the most important thing about their child playing sports is their safety. The last thing that a parent wants for their kid is to suffer an injury, but they want their kids to participate in the activities that they love. Obviously there is a risk for injuries when you play sports, but we can always take steps to reduce the risk. Here are a few steps that you can take to ensure that your child stays as healthy as possible.
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1. Get Enough Sleep
Most sources recommend getting anywhere between 7-10 hours of sleep, many of them leaning more toward the higher end of the spectrum. Not getting enough sleep can reduce reaction time, reduce tolerance to exercise, and reduce their ability to properly recover from exercise.
2. Maintain a Good Diet
The two biggest things we focus on with nutrition in young athletes is their calorie intake and how much protein they are eating. They need to be eating enough to fuel their bodies and aid in recovery, but the ratio of macronutrients is also important to consider. Proteins are the building blocks of muscle and will aid in recovery.
3. Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water is important for optimizing recovery and preventing heat-related illness. The general rule of thumb for the amount of water to drink per day is 0.5 oz of water per pound of body weight. Have your child carry a water bottle that has the ounces clearly marked with them to ensure they are staying hydrated.
4. Take Proper Rest Days
The no “pain no gain” and “no days off” mentality puts athletes at larger risk for injury. Their bodies need some days off to recover from the rigorous routine they put themselves through at practice and any extra things they do outside of that. Rest days are when the real recovery happens, so make sure they take at least 1 or 2 days off a week from whatever sport they play.
5. Improve Any Weaknesses
Every athlete can benefit from strength training. Many aches and pains “pop up” because of weaknesses in certain areas that aren’t worked in the specific movements of their sport. Or certain muscles will try to compensate if one muscle isn’t doing it’s job. For example, the glutes are supposed to bring the leg behind us when we are walking or running. If the glutes are weak and aren’t doing their job, then the low back muscles may compensate to bring the leg behind us and lead to a low back strain.
6. See a Physical Therapist
A physical therapist is trained to evaluate and treat any sports related injuries. They can also assess for any weakness or imbalances that could increase the risk of injuries (even if you don’t have a current injury). They can look at how your athlete moves, determine what is wrong, and develop a plan of action to resolve any issues. Getting help as soon as you notice something is wrong can prevent a more serious injury. Here at Limitless Performance Physical Therapy, we work with injured athletes, athletes that want to prevent injuries, and athletes that want to improve their performance!
When To See a PT for a Sports Related Injury
- Consistent pain during or after activity
- Any swelling around a joint that won’t go away
- Painful pops
- Feeling like a joint is “giving way”
- Pain that didn’t go away with a period rest
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