Informed parents know that the current generation of children is projected to die at a younger age than their parents. This is the first time in human history this has been known to be true. The cause is related to our current sedentary lifestyle. For this reason, many parents believe that athletics is the key to keeping their children active and healthy. We know that sports partcipation is healthy, keeps the body moving, and builds confidence. Kids who participate in sports are prepared for a life of physical and psychological health, as they have learned to care for their bodies, be mindful of their thoughts, and develop social skills.
However, athletics don’t just come with health and self-esteem benefits, they also come with injuries. Whether your child plays baseball, tennis, or water sports, it is imperative to help them prevent injuries that may not only stop their participation, but could lead to long recovery times, and perhaps permanent damage.
At Golden Chiropractic in Aptos, we see kids injured from their sports. From teaching your kids to excel in mountain biking to guiding them as they play football, it is so important to keep this basic sports safety checklist in mind:
Take Breaks for Physical and Psychological Recovery:
Kids should take 1-2 days off a week where they are not actively participating in competitive athletics, sport-specific training, or competitive practice (scrimmages). This allows time for both physical and psychological recovery. Movement and unstructured free play should be encouraged on the ‘rest’ days. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association recommends that youth athletes should limit sports to no more than 16 to 20 hours per week. Other sources suggest that kids only train for as many hours a week as they are old. At Golden Chiropractic, we also suggest 1-3 months a year where your kid is not actively training for sports. Let them explore other interests or physical activities that aren’t coached and dictated by rules and adults. Mixing up their sports also helps kids physically and mentally, reduces the chance of overuse injury, and improves general fitness.
Choose the Right Gear for the Best Protection:
Helmets for cycling, football, and skiing are a must for protecting your child’s brain! Use protective athletic gear appropriate for your kid’s sport, like eye protection, mouth guards, and cups. Don’t forget to make sure your kid’s athletic shoes are the right size with supportive insoles inside.
Strengthen Muscles for Proper Form:
Injury rates are higher in athletes who have not adequately prepared physically. Good form develops a strong movement pattern that reduces over strain. Coaches and athletic trainers are knowledgeable about how to progress thru aerobic conditioning, strength training and agility conditioning. Make sure you are knowledgeable about your child’s training program, and understand the proper form for avoiding injuries.
Increase Flexibility for Healthy Spine and Joints:
Your child should be performing dynamic stretching before athletics and static stretching after sports. Flexibility of the spine and large muscles groups as a daily routine is a great habit to model for your children for a lifetime of self-care.
Stop Activity if There is Pain
Never train into pain. Teach your child to listen to their body. It’s best to decrease training time and intensity if pain or discomfort develops. Stop training and speak to a medical professional or athletic trainer to discuss the possibilities of injury or injury prevention strategies.
Parents and Kids Need to Stress-Less:
Keeping the focus on fun and skills development will build character in your child. Winning isn’t the most important thing in youth sports. Reward your kids for trying hard, and for improving their skills. Remember that sports should be FUN and the goal is for your kids to learn lifelong physical activity skills. Fond memories of youth athletic activity improves chances of adult athletic activity.
Watch for Signs of Burnout:
If your child complains of non-specific muscle or joint problems, fatigue, or experiences a dip in grades, they may be experiencing burnout. Sit down for a heart-to-heart talk about their sports participation. Often, the surest path to burnout is to play the same sport season after season. If your child is showing signs of burnout, try to avoid the pressure of playing every sport year round. Decide together to take one season off a year.
If your child is experincing pain from injuries, make an appointment with Golden Chiropractic.
We’ll do our best to get your kid out of pain, and back into sports.