The phrase "things are not like they used to be"stands true in my opinion in the way the kids are trained is definitely not like it was. Kids are getting trained harder, longer practices, more days per week and more games per week.
This can be due to a number of reasons, possibly to have the school help out as a babysitter or increased competition due to scholarships for colleges. Either way we are putting our kids at risk for sports related injury with over training.
Being part of a sport 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.
Injury Prevention: Highly competitive sports such as football, gymnastics and wrestling may follow a rigorous training schedule that can be potentially dangerous to a growing adolescent. 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. Parents are responsible to be an advocate for their child to make sure they receive the proper sports training.
Proper nutrition and hydration are also extremely vital. While the average person needs to drink half their body weight in ounces of water daily, athletes need to drink even more than that. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day- it breaks fasting. Eating a healthy meal two to four hours prior to a practice or a game allows for proper replenishment and refuels the body.
The following 7 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.
- Use Proper equipment. Especially with 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 child is eating a well-balanced diet and does not skip meals. Avoid high-fat foods, such as candy bars, Gatorade and fast food. It starts at home, if you don’t buy it they won’t be able to eat it.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Certain sports, such as gymnastics, wrestling and figure skating, may require your young 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 half their body weight of water a day.
- 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. A slow jog, jumping rope and/or lifting small weights reduces the risk of torn or ripped muscles.
- Take vitamins daily. A good quality/whole food multi-vitamin is a good choice for the young athlete. Vitamin B and amino acids may help reduce the pain from contact sports. Thiamine and Zinc can help promote healing.
- 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.
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