Keep Your Young Athlete in the Game: Health tips for developing athletes

Injuries

The most common reason adolescents drop out of sports is due to injury. Approximately 50% of injuries in young athletes are due to overuse injuries. Injuries at a young age that are not managed properly can discourage your child from participation in sport and exercise throughout their lifespan. To prevent overuse injuries:

  • Do not advise your child to “play-up” or play on a more advanced team. Even though their skills may warrant playing on a more advanced team, their body may not be mature enough to handle the stresses of advanced play.
  • Be sure to start with a dynamic warm up/stretch before participating in an activity to reduce injury risk.
  • Limit participation in “competitive” or “select” teams if your child is not skeletally mature. You should consult your pediatrician to determine your child’s ability to participate in a more advanced level of play.
Stress

Physical stress is not the only type of stress injuring young athletes. Student’s eagerness to please coaches, parents, and peers often leads to undue stress on their growing bodies. Some psychological and emotional factors you should take into consideration with young athletes include:

  • Young athletes often consider their sport as part of their identity.
  • They tend to be more focused on the present than the future.
  • Life issues such as sexuality, body image, grades, schoolwork, fear of failure or disappointing adults are some of the emotional stresses that affect their athletic ability.
Nutrition

It is imperative that young athletes receive proper nutrition. Knowing what, when, and how to eat and drink can help with development, performance, and injury prevention. A well balanced diet includes macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) along with proper hydration.

  • Carbohydrates: simple, refined carbohydrates should be avoided; instead whole grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, and yogurt should be the primary carb source.
  • Proteins: lean meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, beans, and nuts are good sources of protein. Processed meats should be avoided. It should be noted that too much protein is hard on the liver, so it’s not the more the better when it comes to muscle gain.
  • Fat: necessary to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K along with protecting organs and providing insulation. Good sources of fat include: lean meat, fish, nuts, full fat dairy products, and oils such as coconut or olive oil. Fats from chips, candy, fried foods, and baked goods should be minimized.
  • Calcium, Vitamin D, and Iron should be focused on when it comes to micronutrient intake for young athletes.
  • Young athletes need to monitor their fluid intake before, during, and after games and practices. The temperature outside and the activity being performed should be noted for making hydration adjustments.

Resources:

Purcell, Laura. (2013). Sport Nutrition for Young Athletes. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3805623/

Johnson-Galvez, Tegan, D.P.T., C.C.I. (2011). Five Things You should Know About Your Young Athlete. BaySport Blog. http://baysport.com/baysportblog.html

Knee Problem? No Problem!

By Jinelle Jagoda

Knee pain is one of the most common complaints across all age groups. As injuries occur, people tend to become inactive… and stay inactive. Unfortunately, prolonged inactivity contributes to a myriad of health concerns including cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, muscle and bone weakness, weight gain, and increased difficulty in returning to an active lifestyle. Instead of allowing your knee injuries to keep you away from the action, find alternative ways to stay moving!

The good news is you have options.

Option #1: If you can’t perform your cardio activity of choice, choose a new one! There are many knee friendly cardio options such as biking, elliptical, stairmaster, swimming, and brisk walking. Some methods are friendlier on the knee joint than others, so be sure to ease carefully into the new activity to make sure it is the right choice for you.

Option #2: If cardio just isn’t an option for you, pick up some dumbbells. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 2-3 days of weight lifting to improve overall strength and prevent loss of muscle mass. Avoid weight lifting exercises that may bother your knees and stick to the ones that are pain-free!

Option #3: Exercise other body parts besides the one that hurts. Knee injuries can be overwhelming, and it is tempting to wait to heal and become sedentary. However, there are a lot of simple exercises you can do that don’t involve the knee joint. Push ups, sit ups, planks, calf raises, and glute exercises are all great basic exercises that you can even do at home. Circuit training is an easy way to increase the intensity of seemingly simple exercises by picking a set of exercises and rotating through each one without rest. (Example: 25 crunches, 15 push ups, 1 minute plank, 25 calf raises, 30 second rest. Repeat!)

Option #4: Find little ways to add more activity throughout the day. If scheduled exercise is no longer an option for you, try squeezing in extra steps and movement whenever you can. Here’s how: opt to take the stairs; park far away from building entrances; occasionally walk around the office; take the long way to the bathroom or water fountain; and, walk and talk during your conference call instead of sitting at your desk. You can even take advantage of the extra time to do activities around the home such as cleaning and vacuuming, gardening or mowing the lawn.

Don’t let your knees knock you down! Find something else to do until you can get back on your feet. Continuing an exercise program will help to keep the metabolism and energy levels high, prevent weight gain, and make returning back to your original activity much easier.

Resources:

Acsm.org

About the author:

Jinelle Jagoda, M.S.
Jinelle received her undergraduate degree in Exercise Physiology at Baylor University and her Master’s Degree in Clinical Exercise Science at George Washington University. While in school, Jinelle worked as a graduate assistant in the exercise physiology lab at GWU, and taught yoga and Mat Pilates classes. After graduating with her M.S. degree, she moved back to California with her husband and worked in sports medicine physical therapy prior to starting at BaySport. She is also a certified ACSM Clinical Exercise Physiologist, ACSM Group Exercise Instructor, and 200 HR Registered Yoga Teacher. In her free time, Jinelle enjoys teaching yoga classes, running, rock climbing and backpacking!

Regaining Balance

By Carol Triest, MA, PT

If you are over 30, you are losing your balance. Just like our other systems that deteriorate over time, our sense of balance declines in our late twenties. Similar to our cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, our balance system will continue to decline unless we exercise and challenge it. However, while cardio and strength training are on everyone’s adult fitness radar, balance training is not. The good news is that it is easy to include exercises in your daily routine to improve your balance. Even better, it doesn’t take sophisticated equipment or much time.

Three mechanisms support the sense of balance: vision, the inner ear and the ability to detect change in the position of your joints. To improve your balance, exercise each system. By standing on one leg and staring at a fixed object, you are using all three mechanisms. Closing your eyes makes it more difficult because it leaves only your inner ear and position sense of your feet, knees and hips to keep equilibrium.

Make a habit of adding balance activities to your daily life. Try attempting to balance on one leg while doing other tasks such as brushing your teeth. Stand on one leg and swing the other leg forwards and backwards while you are waiting for the microwave to finish. Walking heel to toe in a straight line or playing catch while on one leg are other ways to strengthen dynamic balance. If you are at the gym, try one leg standing on a balance disc or board. Work on balance while “resting” between weight sets.

Every year, one out of every 3 adults over 65 has a fall. Some of these falls have severe medical consequences. Spending a few minutes a week can make a difference. Improving overall strength and flexibility also helps maintain equilibrium. Be aware that leg and foot pain can interfere with your ability to balance. Rehabilitation from injury or surgery should therefore include balance and coordination training.

About the Author:
Carol Triest received her Masters degree in Physical Therapy from Stanford University. She has extensive experience in sports related injuries, orthopedics and industrial medicine. Since joining the BaySport family in 1998, Carol has enjoyed helping clients achieve improved functional strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness while overcoming physical problems.