Fall sports season is underway, and it’s crucial for parents to ensure their high school athletes stay healthy and perform at their best. We understand the importance of safeguarding our young athletes while supporting their aspirations. Here are some valuable tips to keep your high school athlete in top shape for the 2023 season:
1. Prioritize Injury Prevention
Preventing injuries should be a top priority. Encourage your athlete to participate in proper warm-up routines that include stretching and sport-specific exercises. The right equipment is essential for safety, so ensure they have the appropriate gear for their sport. Additionally, avoid pushing your athlete beyond their limits and allow sufficient rest between practices and games.
2. Be Aware of Specific Risks for Teen Athletes
High school athletes face unique injury risks, particularly concerning growth plate injuries. As their bones are still maturing, these areas are more susceptible to damage. Common sports injuries in teens include ACL injuries, dislocated knees, and shoulder injuries. Educate yourself about these risks and watch for any signs of discomfort or pain in your athlete.
3. RICE Method for Mild Sprains and Strains
In case of mild sprains or strains, remember the RICE method: Rest, Ice, gentle Compression and/or bracing, and Elevation. This approach helps alleviate pain and supports the healing process. If your young athlete is hesitant to return to their sport, take their concerns seriously and consult with a medical professional if needed.
4. Strengthening and Flexibility Programs
Help your high school athlete build strength, flexibility, dexterity, and speed through appropriate training programs. These can significantly reduce the risk of injuries and enhance their performance on the field.
5. Stay Hydrated and Avoid Heat Illness
In the scorching summer heat, proper hydration is vital to prevent heat-related illnesses like cramps, exhaustion, and heat stroke. Encourage your athlete to drink plenty of water, especially during sports activities. Opt for citrus fruits or bananas, which are rich in potassium and sodium. However, avoid alcohol and caffeinated sodas, as they can lead to dehydration.
6. Proper Hydration During Workouts
For shorter workouts or events, cool water is the best fluid for hydration. For longer events, sports drinks with 6% to 10% carbohydrates can be helpful. Dilute most sports drinks with approximately 50% water. Drink fluids in small amounts frequently to maintain hydration levels effectively.
7. Recognizing Dehydration Signs
Monitor your athlete’s hydration by paying attention to the amount and color of their urine. Adequate hydration leads to a large volume of nearly colorless urine. Small amounts of dark, yellow-colored urine may indicate dehydration.
8. Responding to Heat Overexposure
If you or someone you know is experiencing overexposure to heat, take immediate action. Move to a cool, shaded area and loosen tight clothing. Offer water or sports drinks to replenish fluids. Apply cool, wet cloths or sponges to cool the body. Symptoms should improve within minutes but seek medical attention if needed.
As we embark on the 2023 fall sports season, let’s prioritize the health and well-being of our high school athletes. By following these tips and encouraging a safe and supportive sports environment, we can help our young athletes thrive both on and off the field.
Dr. Joseph Guettler is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine, as well as surgery of the knee, shoulder, and elbow. His office is located in Bingham Farms, MI. Visit www.miorthosurgeons.com for more information on Dr. Guettler and his practice, Michigan Orthopaedic Surgeons.