It’s that time of year again, the kids are back at school and sport is underway! The holidays feel like a lifetime ago as our diaries fill with school routines and sporting fixtures.
As a physiotherapist I notice how, before kids return to school, parents typically prepare them by making sure uniforms fit as well as organizing books and stationary. However, parents often don’t spend anytime preparing their kids before getting back into sport which often sets them up for not only poor performance but injuries as well. Well I’m hoping to change that!
Sports are fantastic for social, mental and emotional well being as well as physical development but with long periods of time off over the summer break, it can be very hard and challenging on the body when we expect it to pick right up where it left off.
So if your child is about to jump right back into sport, here are 5 tips to best prepare them for a positive and successful season.
- Eat Healthy and Hydrate
Eating healthy meals to fuel the body and staying hydrated is just as important throughout the sporting season as it is in the lead up. Eating a balanced diet & drinking plenty of water helps children support the demands on their growing body, prevents dehydration as well as illness when returning to sports. So make sure their lunchbox is loaded with great nutrition and their drink bottle full of cool water each day.
- Get Enough Sleep
The Sleep Foundation (2021) recommends 9-11 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night for optimal performance. It is suggested that children who do not get adequate sleep have an increased risk of injury, reduced motor skill development, as well as difficulty with attention, memory, behavior and cognitive performance (Sleep Foundation, 2021). So to improve their performance on and off the field get them to rest up by getting to bed on time.
- Gradually Return to Sport
If your child jumps back into sport too quickly, the risk of injury is much greater. It is recommended that your child slowly starts to practice for their sport in the weeks leading up to the new season. This can be done by gradually increasing the number of days or length of time your child is practicing. This helps to best prepare their body and the body’s systems for the return, which in turn reduces adverse events such as injuries or physical or emotional burnout. So get the balls, bats, bathers out and get the kids building a daily practicing routine.
Encourage your child to spend some time stretching pre, post and during the sporting season. Stretching is normally incorporated at the beginning and end of training and sporting matches, however, children often don’t understand the importance of stretching so pay little attention to it. Stretching allows the muscles to slowly warm up or cool down, increasing muscle and joint mobility as well as preventing muscle soreness through promoting recovery. As a result, stretching reduces the risk of injury.
- Wear Appropriate Shoes!
It is essential for children to have appropriate footwear, more so than adults, especially when playing sport. Your feet are developing and growing throughout childhood, as you are probably aware due to the constant need for new shoes! Shoes help to align the feet, providing support and stability. Having appropriate shoes can also help with the alignment of the body, including the ankles, knees, hips and back. This in turn helps reinforce the correct gait pattern, improve posture, maximise performance and reduce injuries.
By implementing these tips and tricks with your child, you can help them have a fun and enjoyable sporting season!
If you’d like to know more about injury prevention, sports preparation or improved performance for you or your child then I’d be honoured to help
How Much Sleep Do Babies and Kids Need? | Sleep Foundation. (2021). Retrieved 2 February 2021, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/children-and-sleep/how-much-sleep-do-kids-need
Children and Sleep | Sleep Foundation. (2021). Retrieved 2 February 2021, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/children-and-sleep