It’s that time of year again and the kids are heading back to school. Some kids are returning to back to school sports or registering for fall recreational leagues. There is an old saying “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. Hopefully everyone participating in fall sports has prepared efficiently. This can be one of the most dangerous times for kids and sports related injuries. Why?
- Most kids spend their summer break fairly sedentary in Arizona due to the excessive heat and they become deconditioned.
- Bone density is stimulated by activity and loading, most kids during the summer spend a lot of time in the pool so the activity level is good but they are reducing load so there is a potential that their bones will be less dense when they start their fall sports. This can lead to a higher risk of fractures.
- The Summer to Fall transition in Arizona can take us into October with daytime highs into the 100’s. This excessive heat can lead to heat related illnesses
- Kids are learning their bodies so they often don’t know their limits or how to prepare their bodies for the increased activity and often will ignore precursors to injuries.
Many athletes begin their preparation months in advance to get optimal results and preparation for the upcoming season. We work with many NFL players who begin preparation for the following season as soon as they empty their locker from the previous season. So what can you do now that your child is into Fall sports?
- Nutrition – Make sure your child is eating well balanced meals. Well balanced meals can not only help your child for their practices, but also help them stay focused during school and avoid energy crashes.
- Sometimes the biggest challenge is to make sure your child eats regularly during a school day. Many kids will skip breakfast as they hurry to get off to school and then have to wait until lunch time to finally get some food into their system. Also when your child is drinking as much water as they need to not be dehydrated during after school sports practices they can feel full and not want to eat that much for dinner. The overall reduced caloric intake with increased activity can result in significant weight loss and impact their practice performance.
- Here are some general rules:
- Never miss breakfast.
- Lunch should be balanced without too much sugar that can cause afternoon energy crashes.
- Eat a snack about 15-20 minutes before practice, it can be as simple as an apple or peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
- Eat dinner at least 2 hours before bed so that your child has a restful sleep.
- Depending on the performance expectations and level of play your child may need some help with getting a more personalized nutritional program. An athlete is like a sports car it will only perform as well as the fuel you put in it. Contact us if you need a more personalized program to meet your child’s specific needs.
- Hydration – With this being the hottest time of year, hydration is paramount.
- Make sure your child is drinking plenty of fluids, preferably water, throughout the day so that when they start practice they are not already dehydrated.
- Make sure they have plenty of water or electrolyte sports drink(avoid ones with excessive sugar) to replenish their fluids as they practice. The child should drink continuously to avoid being thirsty. Thirst is a sign of dehydration.
- Make sure your child drinks 20oz of fluid for every pound of weight they may have lost during practice or game.
- Contrast Baths – Contrast bathing can be used to reduce swelling around injuries or to aid recovery from exercise. It can also significantly improve muscle recovery following exercise by reducing the levels of blood lactate concentration. While this is effective in recovery it is important to know how to properly set up the protocol, contact us if you have questions on how to set up a proper contrast bath at home.
- Sleep/Rest – It is important to get your child back to a good sleeping routine. Make sure they are getting at least 9-10 hours of sleep a night. Remember a child is constantly growing and needs this time for recovery. An athlete that doesn’t get enough sleep has reduced agility and decision making which can minimally impact performance or potentially lead to injuries.
Ideally starting your kids on a preparation program a few months in advance is the best way to minimize your child’s risk of injury. At Rehab Plus we use all the tools of physical therapy (i.e., modalities, soft tissue work, aquatic recovery, contrast baths, foam rolling, Whole Body Vibration, multiple flexibility protocols) to enhance recovery. Due to kids hectic weekly schedules with school and sports we are now offering monthly SATURDAY hours. This is a great way for athletes to get in post practice/game recovery without impacting their weekly training. We are currently offering Saturday hours for August 17th 8-noon (last appointment at 10:30am). Feel free to contact us 602-954-7742 for help or suggestions on recovery. For those going to be involved in Winter Sports, NOW is the time to really ramp up your preparation! We have programs to improve strength, skills/agility, and endurance. If you need help give us a call. We’ll take care of you just like we do the pros! Good luck!