The 10 Keys to Keep Your Youth Athlete Healthy


Here is a post by Dr. Jon Herting on 10 Keys to Keep Your Youth Athlete Healthy


1. Sleep

Sleep is the body’s primary time to recoup and regenerate and adolescents is a time when we need sleep the most. Have you ever noticed how your preteen or teenager is staying up late and then sleeping in late? There is a physiological reason for this. During puberty a teenagers circadian rhythm changes from one that may have naturally put them to sleep by 9pm to one that puts them to sleep after 11pm. This is in part due to the body rapidly growing and changing during this time. With this rapid growth comes rapid regeneration of the body’s tissues and organ systems. Couple this with the breakdown of tissues when working out or competing and your athlete will need ample amounts of rest in order to recover and optimally prepare for the next workout, practice or game.
We are all also very aware of the affect that just missing a couple of hours of sleep can have on concentration, memory, and other cognitive processes. If your teen isn’t mentally “all” there during a practice, workout or game, will they really perform at their optimal level and as they are expected to?
 sleep
2. Nutrition
Nutrition is something that most teenagers don’t think about. Heck, many of them still don’t like vegetables and by this time it isn’t worth the fight to try to get them to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats and healthy fats are all a part of a healthy diet that will properly fuel and nourish your athlete as they grind through a long season of practices and games. Look out for a future post expanding on this topic.
 nutrition
3. Listen to their bodies
Small pains do not occur in isolation and often lead to movement compensations. If your youth athlete experiences pain do not succumb to “it will just go away syndrome.” Have a qualified professional evaluate them. This often does not mean that they need to stop playing but the professional can give them ways to manage or fix the pain while they continue to play. If it is a more serious manner than the qualified individual can nip the problem in the bud so it doesn’t become something larger.
 Im Listening
4. Soft Tissue Work
Going back to the last point. Often minor aches and pain can be stopped before they become a large problem by targeted soft tissue work. If you notice that your child is “tight,” make sure they are stretching daily. If you notice knots of tender points in their muscle make sure a qualified sports masseuse addresses these issues. If not, these deficiencies will overstress specific joints, muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons and ultimately manifest in a more serious injury. It is only a matter of time…
 soft tissue

5. Proper body mechanics
Hire a qualified individual to assess your child’s movements; especially if they are lifting or working out on their own. Have a qualified individual instruct your child on proper lifting techniques and body mechanics while working out. Shelling out $70 for a 1:1 session with a strength coach will save you money in the long run if your child plans to continue to lift and play sports through adolescents, into college and beyond; especially as their body changes and goes through periods of excessive growth, “growth spurts.” This will pay dividends in the long run.
mechanics

Look for Part 2 next week where we will address relationships, stress management, and mobility among other topics.

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