With students returning to school, fall sports are just around the corner. The benefits of youth sports participation are numerous. Athletic participation helps lay the groundwork for an active lifestyle through the lifespan. Interscholastic sports also emphasize characteristics such as teamwork, determination, and grit. However, sports do inherently carry the risk of injury. In fact, one in three youth injuries are sports related. Below are some tips for keeping our young athletes healthy:
Intense exercise and good nutrition go hand in hand. Athletes need to get enough calories to support their activities. This means protein, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables, and carbohydrates. In particular, carbohydrates such as pasta and bread become a necessity to an active athlete, in contrast to what many adults require depending on activity levels. Intense exercise on a regular basis places a significant stress on the body; without adequate caloric intake, the body is in a constant state of breaking down rather than building.
Playing a sport isn’t like hopping on a treadmill, at least not my treadmill workouts. Athletic competition requires going 100%. A proper stretching program, both static and dynamic, is important prior to practices and games. This should be sport specific as well, as the movements asked of a volleyball player are much different from a football player, for instance. Athletic trainers can be very helpful to athletes in this regard.
Teenagers need lots of sleep. There’s no way around it. Shoot for eight hours. Without adequate sleep, cognitive and gross motor function decline, and the risk of an injury increases.
I’ve heard horror stories that “back in the day,” coaches used water breaks as a reward/punishment tool at football practices. Thankfully, in 2021, it seems as though this practice has been universally abandoned. Dehydration is dangerous. Frequent water breaks are extremely important in hot conditions. In instances where large volumes of sweat are being lost, a sports drink can be an even better choice as it will replace electrolytes (salt) being lost in the sweat. Pushing through dehydration and overheating to the point of heat exhaustion is never worth it. Warning signs of heat exhaustion include dizziness, nausea, weakness, lightheadedness, and headaches. There’s nothing wrong with cooling down and taking a short break. Make sure that your young athletes know this!
5. Seek out professional advice
At Door County Medical Center, we’re available to evaluate and diagnose orthopedic issues through the entire age spectrum. If an injury isn’t improving as expected, or something doesn’t seem right, schedule a consultation with one of our orthopedic specialists.
About Dr. Mark Jordan
Dr. Mark Jordan provides orthopedic services at Door Orthopedic Center in Sturgeon Bay. The Door Orthopedic Center at Door County Medical Center is a state-of-the-art facility paired with a top-notch orthopedic team that can get you back to daily living and your favorite activities as soon as possible. To schedule an appointment at Door County Medical Center's Door Orthopedic Center, visit our Door Orthopedic Center page or call Door County Medical Center at 920-743-5566.