Injury Prevention in Our Young Athletes By: Dr. Renee Rinard, PT, DPT

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One of the biggest questions in sports is always: “how can we prevent injury?” This is becoming especially true as our young athletes are returning to their sports after such an extended period of time off due to COVID-19 shutdowns. This season of sports has been predicted to have one of the highest injury rates, unfortunately, there is not one key secret to preventing injuries. The best possible way to prevent injury is through the following:

  1. Sleep!
    1. At least 7-9 hours! Kids are extremely busy with the pressures of school, sports (sometimes multiple), extracurricular's, etc, especially now that activities are starting up again. We are currently seeing our young athletes cutting back on their sleep to keep up with everything on their plates, which is not allowing for proper recovery of their growing bodies; tired minds and bodies are not able to react and support themselves through their activities. Approximately 7-9 hours of sleep is crucial for the body to be able to perform optimally.
  2. Hydrate!
    1. A good starting point is drinking half the body weight in ounces of water, but the amount the body needs depends on each person’s body composition, activity level, and diet. An appropriate gauge on if you are drinking enough water is the color of your urine; ideally it should be a light yellow to clear. If urine is a dark yellow color, your body probably needs a higher amount of water than you are currently drinking.
  3. Proper nutrition
    1. A balanced diet will give these young athletes the proper fuel to sustain the demands that are put on their body. It's easy to grab and go fast food and processed food, but a healthy, balanced diet will give your athlete the best chance to perform at their best.
  4. Appropriate warm up - sport specific
    1. A proper warm up should mimic the activity the athlete is about to perform and contain dynamic stretching over the more commonly thought of passive/static stretching. Passive/static stretching is holding a muscle stretch for a sustained period of time, usually 30-60 seconds. Dynamic stretching where joints/muscles are actively moved through full range of motion; examples include, leg swings, walking leg hugs, arm circles, lunges with a twist, high kicks.
  5. Not over-training
    1. With sports being on hold for so long due to COVID-19, our young athletes are now having to deal with multiple sports at once, multiple practices a day, and returning to the level of play they were at prior to the shutdown (sometimes higher than prior levels in attempt to make up for lost time). This is leading to significant fatigue where the body is not able to properly support itself, thus leading to injury.

Also, remember that physical therapy can also be a preventative approach! A licensed physical therapist can evaluate and assess your young athlete for any mobility restrictions or muscular imbalances and recommend a proper program!

Dr. Renee Rinard, PT, DPT

reneer@rauschpt.net

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