These days children are getting involved in competitive sports sooner than ever. While being a part of a team and playing competitively has many benefits, there is one downside: the risk of overuse. Athletes are constantly demanding more from their bodies, and they often put pressure on very specific parts of their bodies without much rest. At best this presents itself as soreness or mild discomfort, but the worst-case scenario would be the need for surgery. For a child/teen, this can turn competitive play into a bad experience very quickly.

Prevention

If you’re the parent of a young athlete, there are several things you can do outside the doctor’s office to ensure your child is as successful and injury-free as possible. For starters, make sure your child is wearing the proper equipment. This is crucial for contact sports like football, hockey, boxing, or anything else where frequent impacts occur; if equipment is not fitted properly, injuries are more likely to occur.

Good nutrition is also a key element of keeping your young athlete healthy. However, this goes beyond just making sure he/she maintains a proper diet. Certain sports, such as wrestling or gymnastics, may require athletes to follow strict dietary guidelines. In these situations, it’s imperative to make sure that your child doesn’t feel pressured to become too thin; this is one of the quickest ways to become injury prone.

Another great habit for any athlete (regardless of age) is to have a proper warm-up routine. Jumping into serious athletic activity “cold” dramatically raises the chances of muscle tearing. The warm-up can be anything from a light jog to lifting small weights. The point is that you want to warm the muscles up and prepare them for more strenuous activity; you’re essentially easing the muscles into an intense workout.

One of the most important elements of taking care of the body is to avoid supplements such as creatine. Athletes under 18 still have developing bodies, so it’s possible that these types of supplements could do more harm than good in the long run. Instead, the athlete should ask his/her coach to include weight training or body-conditioning exercises in the workout plans.

Last but certainly not least is making sure your athlete gets adequate sleep. When the body sleeps, the muscles rebuild and repair themselves. Without getting eight hours, not only will the muscles not be able to fully recover, but your child’s mindset could suffer as well. Inadequate sleep results in irritability and sluggishness, and these symptoms are exaggerated when you add intense daily exercise to the equation.

How Chiropractic Can Help

Unfortunately, even with all of these pointers, some athletes will still have soreness/injuries from time to time. The good news is that chiropractic care can be very beneficial for athletes with intense training regimens. Since chiropractic care involves treating the musculoskeletal system, specific problem areas can be targeted depending on what the patient needs. Doctors of chiropractic are also licensed to give advice how to appropriately train for your sport, proper nutrition and injury prevention. Depending on your needs, chiropractic might be a healthy and natural alternative to painkillers or a potentially debilitating surgery.