Do you have a child or youth in organized sports? Are you wondering whether there are things that could be done to build a strong foundation and minimize their chance of injury? Whether they’re in sports for fun, for their mental health, or they’re training to become the next Olympian or pro athlete, the answer is yes! And the earlier you start, the better!
Unlike adults, children and youth can bounce back from injury very quickly. Although this is a fantastic advantage, we can’t always depend on it when developing a solid foundation and maintaining an optimum body for performance. Injuries and pain can build up and later on have greater consequences. In case you’re wondering, it doesn’t take an injury like an ACL rupture and surgery to cause such repercussions. Even a seemingly innocent ankle sprain your kid was able to walk off or a mild AC sprain (joint in the shoulder) from which they managed to recover and return to play within a few days, could eventually lead to more issues down the road. Our bodies, especially while young, have an amazing ability to compensate for all these little adjustments and because there might not be pain, we think that we got lucky and escaped injury. And in the short term, we did! Unfortunately, eventually our bodies reach a point where they can no longer compensate and all of a sudden a simple activity like loading the dishwasher can set off a cascade of seemingly never ending injuries and pain.
Preventing Sports Injuries
Here are four things you and your Athletic Therapist can do to set your kids up on the right track:
An Athletic Therapist can speak to your child about their bodies, their injuries and the importance of addressing them properly and as quickly as possible. The goal is to plant the seed on being proactive and partaking in preventative measures rather than being reactive to injury.
Start off on the right footing
Whether your child has been injury free thus far or has already had some injuries, working with a good AT early on helps to peel away at the layers as injuries come up. That way, the body doesn’t have to compensate so much for so many things over the years. Starting your child on a proactive prevention and recovery path early is the the best foundation to prevent future injuries.
Establish proper biomechanics, the basic movements of every sport, as early as possible
There are many foundational skills athletes use throughout their athletic careers, like overhead presses, squats, changes in direction or how to land properly and absorb weight from a jump, that they have never been trained how to perform As athletes progress up the ranks of their sport, the added intensity and frequency of these movements can set off a cascade of problems – think the volleyball player who all of a sudden has shoulder pain while hitting, or a basketball player with knee soreness that seemingly came out of nowhere. Training young athletes early on these core movement skills will allow them to have better body awareness and a strong foundation to build from.
Ensure there is some cardiovascular training for a few weeks leading up to the beginning of the season
Whether you have a 7-year-old starting their first year of soccer or a 17-year-old preparing for another hockey season, make sure they don’t go from not training at all to a full schedule of practices and games. For a 7-year-old, this could be something as simple as playing tag, getting on the monkey bars at a playground or playing and running around with the family dog. For your 17-year-old, have them go for a jog, go to the gym to lift weights, do yoga or circuit training. It could be any activity they enjoy doing as long as it involves them getting active and breaking a little sweat. An Athletic Therapist can help develop a plan to prepare your young athlete to start the season strong.
When you have children and youth in sports, injuries, aches and pains are inevitable. As a parent, one of the ways you can help keep your kid safe and healthy on their athletic journey is working with an athletic therapist to build a strong foundation of body awareness and knowledge to minimize injuries and get them back to playing sooner when they do get hurt. Contact an athletic therapist at Harbourview Therapy today!