Top performance: Tips for young athletes to prevent injuries this spring season
We want the best in health for our young athletes. Here are a few quick tips to ensure success and top performance as spring draws near.
Strength and flexibility
Many common sports-related injuries involving strains and sprains can be prevented with strength training and stretching.
Incorporating muscle strengthening and resistance exercises into the athlete’s training program helps prevent injury by promoting joint health and overall balance. It will also aid in recovery, should an injury occur.
“Strength training can be a great thing for high school athletes,” says Dr. James Ward,* an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine and volunteers as team physician at Kettle Run High School in Fauquier County, Virginia. Paying heed to proper technique while strength training is crucial, he adds.
Stretching specifically increases muscle elasticity and flexibility, important benefits for athletes who engage in a tremendous amount of quick, high-intensity movements such as football and soccer players.
Overuse injuries are another common reason our orthopedic doctors and physician assistants see student athletes.
“Times have changed. Now kids are playing the same sport year round, which can lead to an increased risk of overuse injuries due to certain parts of the body being used over and over,” says Dr. Ward, who recommends taking some time off from a sport to give the affected parts of the body time to heal.
Nutrition and hydration
Proper nutrition should be considered an extension of the athletic training program. As we know, the right foods fuel our bodies and provide proper energy for us to operate. For the high school athlete, a well-balanced diet serves as fuel for the game, and allows for precision performance on the field, court, course or track. When athletes aren’t eating the right foods, energy can dwindle – leading to both exhaustion and injury. Work with your pediatrician to create a nutrition plan with the sport in mind. They can take into account the athlete’s medical history, their sport, and even their position to find the perfectly balanced diet.
Drinking plenty of fluids leading up to a sports practice or event is imperative for success. It is equally important to stay hydrated throughout physical activity. Be sure to follow water break schedules provided by the coaching and athletic staff. In general, it’s a good idea to bring water along wherever you go.
Getting your ZZZs
A restful sleep is also a key to the high school athlete’s success both on and off the field. Sleep provides the necessary recovery time in between practices or games. The CDC recommends 8-10 hours of sleep per 24 hours for children ages 13-18 to promote the best physical health, emotional well-being and school performance. Additionally, it is recommended the child have a consistent sleep schedule for best performance.
Follow all game rules, especially safety guidelines
Wear the proper athletic gear for the sport
Stop training or playing if there is pain; consult the team’s athletic trainer immediately
Blue Ridge Orthopaedic is a proud supporter of high school athletics in Fauquier County and we look forward to cheering on all of the high school athletes this season, whether a Falcon, Eagle, Cougar, or Hawk. Be safe and have fun!
*Source: Fauquier Health’s Healthy Happenings (Fall 2019)