It’s time for Spring sports again, when the spirit of teamwork and good sportsmanship thrive here in the hill country. Sports offer a wide variety of benefits for our children,including physical fitness, coordination, a sense of commitment, and self esteem to name a few. However, in order to optimize the positive effects of sports participation and minimize the chances of injury, there are a few simple guidelines parents can keep in mind.

First, making sure that players are properly warmed up can prevent many injuries. Make sure your youngster arrives to practice and games with plenty of time to warm up. This can be simply running around the field, jogging in place, or doing the old favorite,jumping jacks, for at least ten minutes. Stretching all the major muscle groups prior to game or practice helps to maintain correct posture and to prevent muscle sprains and strains. It also helps to lengthen muscles, increasing the body’s range of motion.

Second, good nutrition is vital to athletic fitness. It is important to eat a healthy meal before play. Avoid foods that are high in fat, as they can affect digestion, slow metabolism and leave you with that sluggish feeling. Vitamins can also help supplement the diet. Taking a multi-vitamin and Vitamin C daily is a good start. Vitamin B and Amino Acids can help to decrease pain from contact sports, and Thiamine can help to promote healing. However, you should always check with your physician before starting a vitamin routine. For older athletes, keep in mind that kids under the age of 18 should avoid performance-enhanced supplements, such as creatine. A better choice would be to include weekly weight-training and body conditioning sessions.

Third, be sure that your athlete is well-hydrated for both practice and games. Water is always a good choice, and sports drinks work great to re-hydrate the body as well. I tell most of my patients to use this simple equation… take the body weight and divide it in half, and that’s how many ounces of water they should be drinking daily, especially when participating in activities of physical exertion. (For example, a 100-pound person should drink at least 50 ounces of water daily.)

Fourth, a good night’s sleep is essential to fend off fatigue and irritability.

Fifth, a yearly physical can help to ensure your athlete is fit and ready to play, before theseason even begins.

In closing, a little prevention goes a long way, and following these guidelines should giveyour athlete a jumpstart on a happy, healthy season.

This article appeared in:
Bulverde Community News
February 2003