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Keeping Your Athlete Healthy and Fit

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In today’s society more and more of our children are getting involved in sports.  Being part of the team is part of growing up for all children, but many coaches and parents are missing the importance of proper nutrition, stretching, and conditioning that is needed to prevent injuries on the field.

Proper nutrition is very important for a maturing athlete. Many students have different lunch schedules, and some may eat as early as 10:30am. It is very important that this athlete have accessibility to an afternoon snack (a healthy protein snack) before practice, especially if practice last until 5:30 or 6:00pm.  The athlete’s optimal playing capacity can be affected if trying to perform on an empty stomach.  Staying hydrated is also a vital part in preventing injuries.  During those hot summer two a day practices, those athletes need to especially be aware of their liquid intake.  Staying hydrated can prevent cramps, overheating, and fatigue.

Stretching is the most neglected part of sports that I see in my everyday practice. I have many top notch conditioned athletes that have the worst flexibility on the planet.  A general warm-up should include a slow jog, stretching all the major muscle groups, and then go into the sport specific routine. Athletes should also do a cool-down after practice that includes stretching major muscles.  Many athletes learn improper stretching techniques, it causes them pain, and thus they do not stretch. It is our job to make sure that these kids are receiving the proper techniques, to prevent them from injuries.

Conditioning is another area, where I see trouble. Coaches and parents: please remember that your athlete is still growing and is still a child. We cannot expect them to perform Olympic style lifts and train at that type of level.  I have treated many child athletes with over-use injuries. These types of injuries can lead to stress fractures and can also disrupt the growth plates, leading to further damage.  Our bodies will tell us when too much is enough. Please listen to your athlete. If they are hurting, do not push them, a few days of rest will only allow them to excel later because the body was able to heal and can then function at maximum capacity.

Young athletes think that they are invincible and do not want to admit when they are hurting. Coaches, trainers, and parents need to be aware that sometimes, they really are hurt.  Young athletes are just as susceptible to strains, sprains, tendinitis, and fractures as adults.  These types of injuries can be treated with chiropractic, physical therapy, and massages.  Our goal is to get that athlete back on the field in a short time, but with optimal playing capacity. A professor of mine once said, “The team with the less mechanical defects wins.”  I encourage parents and coaches to pay closer attention to those nutritional, conditioning, and stretching components for their athletes, so Guthrie can be the team with the most wins.

Dawn Hacker, B.S., D.C., CCSP®, CKTP®
Dr. Dawn’s Chiropractic
208 W. Oklahoma Ave.
Guthrie, OK 73044

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