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Pre-Teen and Teen Sports

soccerI vividly remember taking my son Dan out to his spring baseball games and juggle the many hours of gymnastics training each week for my daughter Lindsay. My son is now a General Surgeon in Vancouver. While attending Trent University Dan coached a baseball team in the Peterborough league he played in years before. Lindsay earned her Bachelor and Masters degree from the University of Toronto and worked in a Toronto cancer research facility. She is now a mom of two taking her girls to swimming lessons and gymnastics and teaching part-time at Durham College. I share this with you not only because I am proud of my children but because I believe sports for pre-teens and teens is important in shaping who our children become, and helps them develop skills that serve them in school and life.

Weather and Environmental Conditions

First thing to keep in mind with spring sports, such as soccer or baseball is the weather. In the early spring the temperatures may be in the low single digits, damp or rainy. By the end of the season you could be heading out to a game in the blazing sun and a heat wave. Your children may keep warm on the field while running around but ensure warm clothes for the end of the game. As a parent who sat in the stands myself and learning the hard way, make sure you are dressed for the sitting in the cold and damp temperatures of early spring. As the season approaches its conclusion make sure there is sunscreen and hydration for all attending the event. Even though it was an indoor sport, the summer temperature was an issue for my daughter’s gymnastics because the building was not airconditioned, thus making hydration a priority and more rest between exercises could be needed. I am not a fan of many of the commercial Sport drinks because of the artificial flavouring and colouring, plus the amount of salt and sugar. There are good all natural products out that I am happy to share if you contact me.

Sport Nutrition

Immediately after the game, or practice a good source of protein is important for nourishment, muscle repair and muscle building in developing young bodies and for that matter in athletes at any age. A protein bar and water or a protein shake is a fast and convenient way to achieve this goal. Whey protein is an excellent complete, source of the muscle building amino acids and if you can find undenatured (cold filtered) whey, it is best for bioavailability. Plant base bars and shakes require a blend of protein sources to provide a complete profile. Avoid soy containing shakes and bars and especially GMO soy protein shakes (Google or YouTube -“Dangers of Soy” ). Look for a protein bar that is considered a complete meal. Very young children may only need a half bar or half shake.

Did you know that many top level hockey players have less muscle mass at the end of the season because of muscle strains, injuries, lack of recovery time and insufficient quality protein and protein intake timing?

Cross Training for Fun and Skills

Children under 11 should participate in a variety of sports. Even if your child is a future NHL Superstar, it is important to have an off season, and play other sports. It is like cross training, it can improve skills and abilities in your child’s favorite or primary sport.

Walter Gretzsky, Wayne’s dad, did not allow Wayne to play hockey in the off season and encouraged him to play other sports in the summer?

Sport Injuries and Children

One of the benefits of being a physically active person all my life and a Chiropractor for 35 years is that not only have I seen and treated a wide variety of musculoskeletal conditions in patients of all ages, I have personally experienced a wide variety of sport injuries. This has not only given me an appreciation from a patient perspective but they also allowed me to experiment with what works best, taking this knowledge into practice.

Most childhood injuries are minor strains and sprains and resolve quickly. However, some do require attention, if pain persists or performance is effected, attention is required. Watch for repetitive injuries to the same body part, such as ankle sprains, “twisted knee”, soar or pinching shoulders. It could indicate that the original issue did not fully heal or healed with scar tissue.

Chiropractors and Physiotherapists have typically treated these injuries with hands on therapies, and/or modalities such as Ultrasound, Interferential Current, Microcurrent or Diathermy. Chiropractors not only treat all peripheral injuries but have the added expertise to assess the impact your child’s sport is having on the function of their spine and then adjusting spinal issues in an early stage. Over the past 10 years I have used a therapy that has prompted me to practically unplug all others. Laser therapy is a profound healing modality that continues to amaze me for its impact on my patient’s health and recovery. We have 3 BioFlex Duo Array laser systems in our clinic. Minimizing the long term effects of the stresses and strains that may have started in childhood, from sport related injuries or daily poor posture, are most easily corrected in the young. Look for forward head carry in your child as a clue to early spinal changes.

Concussions are a growing issue in all sports and ages groups. Diagnosis has taken leaps ahead in recent years. Effective treatment protocols have not been developed as fast. What I have found treating head and neck injury cases, is that whiplash and concussion are two sides of the same coin. While either the head or neck symptoms may be dominant, treating both is beneficial to the outcome.

Case Study: A male in his 20’s had his feet taken out from behind during a floor hockey game. His head hit, bounced, and hit again on the gym floor. He had classic concussion symptoms and was off work due to the severity of his injuries. We treated his condition with Chiropractic spinal adjustments and Laser therapy. His symptoms decreased and function improved quickly. He returned to work and floor hockey in short period of time. For more information on the brain, concussion and laser therapy, read Dr. Norman Doidge’s book The Brain’s Way of Healing Itself – Chapter 4.

The 10 Most Important Reasons Children Play Their “Best” School Sport

2,000 boys and 1,900 girls grades 7 to 12 who Identified a “best” school sport were sampled in a 1987 youth sport survey conducted by Dr. Martha Ewing and Dr. Vern Seefeldt.

  1. To have fun.
  2. To improve my skills.
  3. To stay in shape.
  4. To do something I’m good at.
  5. For the excitement of completion.
  6. To get exercise.
  7. To play as part of a team.
  8. For the challenge of competition
  9. To learn new skills.
  10. To win.

If fun is the most important outcome for your child, it is important to understand the factors that can affect your child’s level of enjoyment. Especially pre-teen and early teens, growth, strength and abilities can vary greatly among children of the same age. This plays into the balance equation for your child’s enjoyment of sport. Fun happens for your child when there is a balance between their SKILLS and the level of CHALLENGE they are playing in. If your child’s Skills far exceed their Challenge, your child may become bored, fun goes down and your child wants to drop out. If the

Challenge far exceeds your child’s skills, your child experiences anxiety, which can also be the thief of fun, leading to drop out.

Does Sport Build Character?

According to Dr. Stuart Robbins, chair of the School of Physical Education at York University says that with proper leadership, sport provides the opportunity for children to:

  • Acquire an appreciation for an active lifestyle
  • Develop a positive self-image by mastering sport skills
  • Learn to work as part of a team
  • Develop social skills with other children and adults
  • Learn about managing success and disappointment
  • Learn respect for others

At Active Chiropractic & Wellness Centre we wish you and your children a fun spring sporting season.

Written by Dr. Jeff Lustig BSc, DC, CCRC

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