Back to School Series: A Guide to Safe Athletics
Parents’ Supervision Key to Ensuring Safe Before, During and After School Athletics Fun
With the start of a new school year, kids of all ages will be gathering before, during and after school to compete in a variety of sports and physical activities. Football, cheerleading, soccer, hockey, gymnastics and in recent years what was once a winter indoor sport but has now become a year-round phenomenon, basketball, will all be pursued with vigor and enthusiasm as kids get back together at school. From the most junior recreation leagues and school programs to informal “pick-up” games in the parks and playgrounds, indoor and outdoor athletics are a significant part of how young people spend their recreation time.
This is a wonderfully healthy trend, and even better if parents help by making sure that basic rules of safety and injury prevention are applied. Doctors of chiropractic everywhere encourage increased physical activity among people of all ages as part of an effective program of maintaining health and vitality the natural way. This is especially true in light of so many recent reports citing inactivity and childhood obesity among the world’s most alarming health trends.
The following guidelines will help coaches, parents and young athletes enjoy safe and healthy sports activities, whether competitive or recreational.
- For all sports endeavors, and particularly those involving high energy, rapid motion activities, a clean, safe playing surface is important. Parents and coaches should always ensure that young athletes have safe places to play. Outdoor facilities are particularly prone to damage from seasonal temperature changes. Adult athletes and supervisors of younger players need to ensure that the surfaces they play on, whether indoors or outside, are free from obstructions and dangerous situations as wet or uneven surfaces.
- Make the time to visit your child’s school, park or playground at the start of the school year to see for yourself the conditions of their play areas, and to let them know you care about their safety and their fun. Also, nothing means more to a child than to have their parents as regular spectators at their games or competitions.
- Safe sports activities require appropriate sports gear, and safe gear includes proper footwear. Proper footwear will help ensure needed stability and buoyancy, will minimize impact stress on the spine and supporting joints during running and jumping, assist in maintaining alignment and balance in movement, and reduce loss of balance and chance of injury from falls.
- Be sure to include an appropriate warm-up activity before playing in a game. This might include jogging or other aerobically oriented activities followed by gentle stretching.
- After any period of intense exercise, athletes should always have a cool down period, with gentle stretching of muscles. This will help to normalize cardiac function back to resting heart rate as well as reduce muscular soreness and tension.
- Include both strength and flexibility training in your pre-game athletic training program. The human body was not necessarily designed to tolerate all of the stress and strain that fast moving and high impact athletic activities can place on complex structures. This is particularly true of the weight-bearing regions of the body, such as the joints involving the lower back, pelvis and knee.
- An adequate and balanced nutritional base is important to any extended period of intense activity. Difficult to digest foods and toxic substances should be avoided. Sufficient supplies of liquids should be on hand both throughout and following the period of activ¬ity, and utilized as needed.
- Encourage young people to pay attention when out playing on the court or on the field. Loss of concentration leads to increased chance of injury.
- Before beginning a program of exercise, athletes should visit their doctor of chiropractic for an examination and spinal screening. Healthy body systems, postural balance, muscular strength, flexibility, and neurological responsiveness are important components for maximum performance in both sports activities and in the “game of life.”
- Chiropractic care can add to athletic performance by enhancing balance, mobility and reducing pain and restriction. Proper spinal alignment is an important compo¬nent of good health as well as healthy athletic performance.
- Chiropractic care can make a significant contribution to athletic performance by keeping the athlete’s spine in proper alignment, avoiding harmful irritation to the nerves that control and coordinate the functions and movements of the human body. Nearly all world-class athletes have a doctor of chiropractic on their healthcare team.
- Chiropractic is a natural form of health care. Doctors of chiropractic pro¬vide a healthy alternative to pain medication, anti-in¬flammatory drugs, and other chemicals, which may address symptoms but not resolve the cause of a problem and expose the patient to potentially damaging side-effects of chemicals dulling the mind or slowing the body. Chiropractic is safe and effective for a wide range of health concerns for patients of all ages.
REMEMBER, PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING DRUGS LIKE STEROIDS ARE NEVER THE ANSWER TO STRENGTHENING YOUR GAME. INSTEAD, THEY CAN HARM OR EVEN CAUSE DEATH!
For more information on chiropractic care, injury prevention and maximum human performance contact Dr. Josh at the clinic.Dr. Joshua Gelber is a traditional chiropractor; he practices in Midtown Toronto in the Annex / Bloor & Spadina / Yorkville / Koreatown / Seaton Village neighbourhoods. His children, family, and wellness practice focuses on using gentle chiropractic adjusting techniques to enhance health, and reduce pain, and help people achieve Greatness.