Does your child train in the off-season? For many parents who have children competing in a highly competitive sport, their training probably looks a lot different now than it did a year ago due to Covid-19 and all the restrictions in place! Keeping your child healthy and injury free, even with social distancing guidelines, is still critical not only to their success in their favorite sport, but also to their development. While their training may be very different this summer, there are still things you can do as a parent to help your child reduce the risk of injury or to manage an overuse injury in the off-season. Remember that pain is not normal, so if your child is complaining of pain or you see swelling, give our office a call at 512-478-8116. We offer same day appointments for injuries.
Avoid sport specialization
Many student athletes continue to train in the off-season, especially to improve their strength and conditioning. The pressure to continually advance and participate in year round training can increase the risk for overuse injuries. When sports resume, encourage your child to play different sports in different seasons (i.e. football in the fall, baseball in the spring, swimming in the summer). This cross-training will not only help them maintain a high level of conditioning, but also significantly reduce the risk of sports specific overuse injuries such as stress fractures, jumper’s knees and thrower’s arm.
A 2016 study at the Departments of Kinesiology, Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and funded by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Foundation revealed that high school athletes who specialize in a single sport sustain lower-extremity injuries at significantly higher rates than athletes who do not specialize in one sport. This finding holds true with what we see in our office and we hope it raises awareness of the dangers of single sport specialization.
Rest the body
Even professional athletes have rest days. Resting is essential to helping the body repair and rebuild muscle tissue. Minor tears, sprains and strains only resolve with rest and proper management. Encourage your child to take time off from training, there is no better time than now as we all social distance! Instead of running each day, go for a bike ride or a hike, even better if you can make it a family activity sometimes. Try to incorporate other activities that can reduce the constant strain on your child’s body.
Add stretching to your routine
It can be challenging as a busy parent to give your child the time they need to stretch after practice, and we know parents are busier than ever with the new things added to their during Covid-19. One thing that's a bit easier to work into a normal schedule is to make sure your child stretches adequately before bed each night. This can help reduce the lactic acid in your child’s muscles and reduce tightness in tendons and ligaments, thus reducing the risk of injury. If your child is recovering from an injury, working on flexibility can help increase their range of motion, which can prevent further injury. Our PT staff would be happy to show you stretches that can improve your child’s flexibility and reduce the risk of injury. If a physician has prescribed PT for your child as part of treatment for an injury or condition, make sure to follow your therapist’s instructions. If your child feels pain or has difficulty with range of motion, stop stretching and give our team a call.
The key to preventing and managing injuries in the off season is simple: encourage your child to rest, stretch and play different sports. Most sports are in an "offseason" of sorts currently due to Covid-19, so this is the perfect opportunity to take the time to do these three things and increase the chances of a healthy season for your child if and when sports return! If your child is experiencing joint or bone pain, or complaining of difficulty performing certain movements he or she may have an orthopedic injury. We are the only orthopedic office in Central Texas dedicated to pediatric patients. We offer same day appointments and are happy to consult with your pediatrician or family medicine physician. Give us a call at 512-478-8116.