Accessibility View Close toolbar

Keeping Athletic Kids Healthy & Fit

In today's age of health and fitness, more and more kids are involved in sporting activities. Although being part of a football, soccer or Little League team is an important rite of passage for many kids, parents and their children could be overlooking the importance of proper nutrition and body conditioning needed for preventing injuries on and off the playing field.

"The majority, if not all, sports are good, provided that the child prepares appropriately," says Dr. Carl Heigl, president of the American Chiropractic Association's Council on Sports Injuries and Physical Fitness. "Without proper preparation, playing any sport can turn into a bad experience. There are structural and physical developmental issues that need to be taken into consideration before children undertake certain sports."

Highly competitive sports such as football, gymnastics and wrestling follow rigorous training schedules that can be potentially dangerous to an adolescent or teenager.

The best advice for parents who have young athletes in the family is to help them prepare their bodies and to learn to protect themselves from sports-related injuries before they happen.

"Proper warm up, stretching and weight-lifting exercises are essential for kids involved in sports, but many kids learn improper stretching or weight-lifting techniques, making them more susceptible to injury," says Dr. Steve Horwitz. "Parents need to work with their kids and make sure they receive the proper sports training."

"Young athletes should begin with a slow jog to warm up the legs and arms and stretch all the major muscle groups," says Dr. Horwitz. "Kids involved in football, baseball, gymnastics and swimming should develop a routine that includes strengthening exercises for the abdomen, the low-back muscles, arms and shoulders."

Proper nutrition and hydration are also extremely vital. "A student athlete may need to drink eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of water for proper absorption. Breakfast should be the most important meal of the day. Also, eating a healthy meal before and after practice or a game allows for proper replenishment and refuels the body," adds Dr. Horwitz.

Young athletes today often think they are invincible. The following tips can help ensure your child does not miss a step when it comes to proper fitness, stretching, training and rest that the body needs to engage in sporting activities.

Encourage your child to:

  • Wear the proper equipment. Certain contact sports, such as football and hockey, can be dangerous if the equipment is not properly fitted. Make sure all items of equipment— including helmets, pads, and shoes— fit your child or adolescent. Talk to your child's coach or trainer if the equipment is damaged.
  • Eat healthy meals. Make sure your young athlete is eating a well-balanced diet and does not skip meals. Avoid high-fat foods, such as candy bars and fast food. At home, provide fruit rather than cookies, and vegetables rather than potato chips.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Certain sports, such as gymnastics, wrestling and figure skating, require your young athlete to follow strict dietary rules. Be sure your child does not feel pressured into being too thin and that he/she understands proper nutrition and caloric intake is needed for optimal performance and endurance.
  • Drink water. Hydration is a key element to optimal fitness. Teenage athletes should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Younger athletes should drink five to eight 8-ounce glasses of water.
  • Drink milk. Make sure your child has enough calcium included in his/her diet. ACA recommends 1 percent or skim milk for children over 2 years old rather than whole milk because of its high fat content. The calcium in milk is essential for healthy bones and reduces the risk of joint-and muscle- related injuries.
  • Avoid sugar-loaded, caffeinated and carbonated drinks. Sports drinks are a good source of replenishment for those kids engaged in long-duration sports, such as track and field.
  • Follow a warm-up routine. Be sure your child or his/her coach includes a warm-up and stretching session before every practice, game or meet. A slow jog, jumping rope and/or lifting small weights reduces the risk of torn or ripped muscles. Flexibility becomes a preventive key when pushing to score that extra goal or make that critical play.
  • Take vitamins daily. A multi-vitamin and Vitamin C are good choices for the young athlete. Vitamin B and amino acids may help reduce the pain from contact sports. Thiamine can help promote healing. Also consider Vitamin A to strengthen scar tissue.
  • Avoid trendy supplements. Kids under the age of 18 should avoid the use of performance-enhanced supplements, such as creatine. Instead, they should ask their coach or trainer to include weekly weight-training and body-conditioning sessions in their workout.
  • Get plenty of rest. Eight hours of sleep is ideal for the young athlete. Lack of sleep and rest can catch up with the athlete and decrease performance. Sluggishness, irritability and loss of interest could indicate that your child is fatigued.

New patients receive a free consultation!

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

7:30am - 12pm and 2pm - 6pm

Tuesday:

2pm - 6pm

Wednesday:

7:30am - 12pm and 2pm - 6pm

Thursday:

7:30am - 12pm and 2pm - 6pm

Friday:

Closed

Saturday:

Appointment Only

Sunday:

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

  • "Dr. Blair and his staff are wonderful, caring individuals who have always given my family the best care. You guys are amazing!"
  • Ice Capades

    In the depths of winter, adults, as well as children, exert themselves to engage in enjoyable outdoor activities that will keep them warm and provide both excitement and entertainment. Cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, sledding, ice hockey, figure skating, and speed skating all have their enthusiasts. Many ...

    Read More
  • Being a Change Agent

    Being a Change Agent For most of us, change happens slowly, if at all. But as the recent holiday season fades into the distance, many of us wish to be increasingly proactive this year and take real action on the numerous New Year's resolutions that we made in regard to our health and well-being. Back ...

    Read More
  • Holiday Cheer

    In early winter, whether we're celebrating Hanukkah or Christmas, both or nothing at all, families and friends gather to share food and drink and give thanks for a year successfully completed. We send up a rousing holiday cheer and share delicious holiday cheer in celebration of our accomplishments and ...

    Read More
  • A User's Guide to Healthy Knees

    Healthy knees require continuous motion. However, our generally sedentary lifestyles are at odds with the maintenance of robust knee joint architecture. Left motionless throughout large portions of the day, over time knee cartilage will break down and knee ligaments will become lax. These chronic changes ...

    Read More
  • Detective Story

    When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes applied himself to a difficult case, he famously utilized his powers of deduction. Holmes assembled and examined the facts before him and employed a scientific method of analysis to arrive at a solution that took into account of all the elements of the ...

    Read More
  • Learning From History

    Whether we're driving a car, riding a bike, or trying to record a spare at our local bowling alley, our musculoskeletal system bases its decision-making on past history, that is, what it has learned before. Drawing on years of experience, recorded deep within our muscle memory, we're able to avoid an ...

    Read More
  • A Center for Health

    Mindfulness programs and practices frequently describe a process of locating your "center." One's center may be conceived as a focus of energy, both spiritual and physical, by which all activities may be grounded and from which all activities flow. Similarly, ballet teachers and gymnastics instructors ...

    Read More
  • Wildfire Inside of You

    Comparisons between the inner world and the outer world have been frequently drawn by philosophers, nature writers, and visual artists. For example, "seeing the universe in a grain of sand" is a well-known aphorism. The number of neurons in your brain has been compared to the number of stars in the Milky ...

    Read More
  • Hitting for the Cycle

    In baseball, hitting for the cycle means that a batter hits a single, a double, a triple, and a home run during the same game. Hitting for the cycle is a rare baseball event, occurring about as often as a no-hitter by a pitcher. Certainly, a great deal of skill is involved in accomplishing such a feat. ...

    Read More
  • Find Inspiration in Walden

    In this 200th anniversary year of the birth of Henry David Thoreau, each of us can increase our health and well-being by applying his guidance to our regular exercise activities. Thoreau, one of the United States' greatest writers, naturalists, and philosophers, not only walked the length and breadth ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup