Five Ways to Keep Young Athletes Healthy and Prevent Sports Injuries

Posted on June 27, 2018

Kids today have more athletic opportunities than any previous generation. There are dozens of sports that boys and girls can play, starting in kindergarten and running through high school. And with the exponential increase in “travel teams”, young athletes are busier than ever.

This is a great thing for a child’s physical and psychological development. However, there’s one notable downside: a higher likelihood of sports injuries. With this in mind, let’s discuss five proven ways to keep young athletes healthy and prevent injury.

#1: Get a preseason physical

Whether it’s done before school or before a child is slated to begin a sports season, a preseason physical is an essential step for determining the child’s readiness for an activity. A physical, specifically a sports physical, is a comprehensive exam that can uncover any lingering issues or potential “danger spots” to be addressed before the child hits the field. The goal is twofold: to prevent the child from exacerbating an existing injury, and to protect the child from new injuries.

#2: Stretching/warming up

At our chiropractor in Charlotte, we always stress to our young patients the importance of stretching and warming up before going full-speed in their sport of choice. The ideal approach is a pregame regimen of static and dynamic stretching, designed to help loosen the child’s muscles and stimulate their bodies before playing. Examples of static exercises, in which the same position is held for a certain amount of time, include toe touches and basic muscle stretches (i.e. to a 10-count). Dynamic exercises are those during which the body continues moving: jumping jacks, running in place, etc.

#3: Diet

With kids busier than ever with various sports, not to mention school and family obligations, a healthy diet has never been more important. In fact, an integral part of our approach at Active Life Chiropractic consists of dietary planning and analysis. It’s important for a child to eat three square meals a day, optimally around the same time each day in order to establish a routine. Fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins are the staples of a well-balanced diet that provides a child with the energy he/she needs to perform their best.

#4: Proper technique/guidelines

Sometimes a chiropractic adjustment at our clinic is necessary because an athlete didn’t use proper technique – i.e. executing a football tackle with the shoulder and not the head, or sliding into a base on the butt/back of leg instead of the knee.  The sooner that young athletes master proper technique in their chosen sport(s), the better. And the same goes for observing safety/developmental guidelines pertaining to how many baseball pitches a kid should throw in one day, how far a child should run every week, etc.

#5: Make time to rest

Children’s bodies are always growing, and proper rest is a key ingredient to avoiding fatigue and injury. Resting in between games and practices allows a child’s body to heal while helping the mind to unwind as well. And of course, a good night’s sleep (and going to bed around the same time every night) is essential. Be aware too that in today’s world, many sports injuries are due to overuse – as in, kids playing too many sports and not getting enough rest.

Kids and sports is a winning combination, especially if you follow these tips. Feel free to contact us with any questions regarding this topic, or anything related to chiropractic treatment.