With the growing focus on health, wellness and overall fitness, kids participating in sport continues to grow in Canada. In fact, 84 percent of Canadian kids between the ages of 3-17 are participating in some type of sport and 60 percent are doing it on an organized basis, according to a comprehensive study conducted in 2014.
Popular team sports include hockey, soccer, baseball, football and tennis, while popular individual sports include swimming and dancing. But no matter what sport your child may be participating in, proper preparation is important for children’s structural and physical development as well as their mental development.
If your child is competing at a high level or in a sport that requires a rigorous schedule such as gymnastics, football, or hockey, taking the proper steps to protect them is key. Proper nutrition and conditioning can help prevent injuries and keep children happy and healthy on and off the field.
Here are some tips to keep your child safe and healthy while participating in youth sports
1. Proper stretching techniques and warm up routines
Some children may be introduced to warm-ups, stretching and weight training as part of their sport. However, depending on the volunteer coach or parent coach in charge, they may not be adequately trained to work with children. This could lead to improper techniques.
Working with someone knowledgeable in youth athletics is imperative to preventing injury. Stretching is one of these key components, and can be supported by seeing a massage therapist that focuses on athletes. You can book a 30-45 min stretching appointment with Sarah Joyce, RMT.
Youth athletes should also follow a warmup routine. Good sports organizations have this implemented with every team. But if your child is missing out on this, we can help build a program for them.
2. Proper hydration and nutrition
Nutrition and hydration are essential components. Athletes typically need to drink more water than the average person, in order to optimize absorption.
Skipping meals is a no-no. Kids can be picky eaters, but when it comes to being an athlete, well-balanced meals and whole foods can help elevate performance and keep the body working right.
Encourage your child to maintain a healthy weight. Some sports can focus on being slight and skinny, like gymnastics or figure skating, and children can feel pressured to restrict food and diet. Talk to your kids regularly about this, encouraging and supporting them in maintaining healthy habits.
If you need help planning pre and post game snacks and meals or how to encourage healthy eating habits, a registered dietitian can help. Book a nutrition counselling session with Gillian Ronald to get optimal nutrition for your youth athlete.
Ensure your child gets their full spectrum of nutrition. Start with a basic multi-vitamin, as well as vitamin D and omega fatty acids. MPH is partnered with Metagenics, a premier supplement company that has great products for kids.
3. Proper equipment
It might not look as cool, but wearing the right equipment, fitted correctly, at all times can lower the risk of a serious injury like a concussion or shoulder dislocation. See professionals for proper fitting, and ask the trainers and coachers for support if you have questions.
4. Encourage rest and reduce stress
Recovery is key to performance. Proper sleep, mindfulness, and keeping a healthy mental outlook all help with optimizing sport performance, no matter what age.
Stress management is also an important part of recovery. If your child needs support, hypnosis or guided imagery can be helpful to reduce stress and encourage proper sleep, as well as optimize athletic performance. Learn more about hypnosis.
Movement Performance & Health is your Youth Athlete’s Support Team
Even with all these measures in place, accidents can happen. Muscles get pulled, ACL’s tear, and low backs can hurt. Having a chiropractor as part of your child’s support team can be extremely helpful in keeping their bodies healthy, on and off the field. Book an assessment with one of our chiropractors today.