by Robert B. Boyle, MPT, COO, Physical Therapist, December 19, 2016
As students go back to school and hit the field or the court, take some precautions to make sure your young athletes stay in shape and avoid unnecessary injuries.
Like studying for a test in the classroom, an athlete needs to prepare for his or her sports. While it is often a requirement of many schools, make certain your student gets a physical before starting any sports program. A thorough exam will alert you to any areas of concern or possible issues in the coming season. Once a student is cleared to play, stress the importance of warming up before engaging in any type of physical activity. Stretching of the muscles can loosen the body and help alleviate any unnecessary strains.
When it is time to play, make sure your player's equipment is in good shape and up to code and regulation. Proper shoes and protective wear can help your athlete perform to the best of his or her ability. Also, be sure your player knows the correct way to participate in any sport. Often, young people do not know the techniques for throwing, catching and running. Learning the right movements can keep players safe, as well as enhance their games.
Have a discussion with your athlete and tell them to learn how to listen to their body. Many athletes today do not know how to pace themselves. They have been trained to push their bodies to the full limit. Sometimes pushing one's self or "feeling the burn" can lead to serious injury. If your athlete experiences a pain or significant discomfort, advise him or her to share that information with you or a coach in case medical attention is needed.
While it is important to play hard, it is equally important to get adequate rest. Encourage your student to get a good night's sleep so their bodies will be fully relaxed. It is also important to have athletes eat nutritious and well-balanced meals, and frequently hydrate, to give their bodies the fuel they need for peak performance.
Also, plan ahead. If your athlete would like to condition prior to the season or has unfortunately already experienced an injury, seek the assistance of a trained physical therapist, such as the experts at Rehab 1st. Our certified staff can work with students and prepare them for their time on the field. We can help them condition muscles and give them tips on how to perform at their individual maximum strength without putting unneeded strain on their bodies. Call us for a consultation today and be "back-to-school ready" for this coming sports season.