Encouraging kids to participate in their favorite sports is a great way to set healthy exercise habits for years to come – even if it’s just a game of tag or kickball in the backyard! But sports injuries and dehydration are a serious matter.
If you really want to “CHEER” them on, be in the know and prevent dehydration and sports injuries!
(Though this post is geared toward kids you can apply the advice to your own exercise routine!)
1. Concussion – Prevent, Recognize, Seek Treatment
Children are more likely than adults to get a concussion (a mild traumatic brain injury) because of their higher head-body size ratio and weaker neck muscles. You can reduce the risk of concussion by making sure your child is properly secured when riding in the car and uses appropriate protective equipment during sports and activities.
Signs that a bump on the head may require medical attention:
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Appearing or feeling dazed
- Nausea or vomiting
- Slurred speech or delayed response to questions
Second impact syndromeis a serious complication that occurs when someone experiences a second head injury before they have fully recovered from a previous (often unrecognized) concussion. This can lead to severe brain swelling and even death.1
Concussion Protocol: The American Academyof Pediatrics recommends that you get the advice of your doctor when your child experiences anything more than a light bump on the head. If you suspect that the injury could be severe, keep your child awake and call 911 at once.
Be sure to keep children well hydrated during the warmer months, especially when they are involved in sports or intense play. Offer water throughout the day to ensure they are not losing more fluid than they are taking in.
Here are some ways to make H20 more appealing:
- Buy a stainless steel bottle with a fun design.
- Drop small chunks of fresh or frozen fruit into their water.
- To make your own electrolyte drink, mix water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice and/or other citrus fruits, raw honey* and a pinch of sea salt. (A small amount of salt taken with fluids can enhance hydration.)
*Remember honey should not been given to children under the age of 2 unless cleared by the child’s pediatrician.
3. Eating After Exercise
Physical activity raises the body’s acidity. After a game, provide light alkaline foods such as orange slices, carrots & cucumbers or the electrolyte drink mentioned above.
When looking at children’s overall diet, make sure they are getting enough protein. Quality protein replenishes amino acid stores and repairs muscle tissue. Chicken, grass-fed beef, quinoa, nuts and nut butter are all good choices.
4. Rotate the Sport/Activity
Children are becoming increasingly susceptible to overuse injuries such as baseball shoulder, gymnast wrist and runner’s knee.2 This type of injury occurs gradually when a group of muscles is over-trained (often when a child is involved in a year-round sport).
To prevent repetitive injuries, give children adequate down time to allow the body’s natural inflammatory response to subside after exercise. It’s also important to rotate your child’s activities and sports. This allows their muscles to be trained in balance.
1) Mayo Clinic. Diagnosing and Treating Sports-Related Concussion.
2) John Hopkins Children Center. Hopkins Children’s Pediatricians Sound Alarm On Overuse Sports Injuries. 2012.