Children’s Sports and Maintaining Optimum Health

Children’s sports and activities are a focal point of modern society. Between soccer games and gymnastics practice, parents are constantly on the move from one event to another! Health is the most important thing we have in life and it can sometimes be overlooked in the hustle of daily life. Here are some important steps to follow to keep your growing children happy and healthy:-Proper warm up’s along with weight lifting and stretching are common in all childhood athletics. Unfortunately, many children are taught the incorrect methods to these activities, or are allowed to perform them incorrectly on a regular basis. Doing so creates abnormal stressors on the vertebrae, bones, muscles and other tissues. It is key that parents ensure that their children are learning and practicing the correct techniques in these practices. Check in with your child’s coach, watch them during a practice, and follow up by having them show you their technique at home, or on personal time. This allows the parent to have a watchful eye on what their child is doing. (This does require knowledge on the parent’s part. You cannot correct behaviors that you do not know are wrong.)-Nutrition is something that you can’t afford to mess around with when your child is growing and also an active athlete. In order for them to reach their full potential the fuel they put in their body must be good fuel full of vitamins and nutrients that the cells need! Ensuring your child eats a breakfast each morning that includes proteins such as eggs and bacon (yes, bacon can be healthy in moderation and if you purchase a brand that does not cure their product) will start the body’s metabolic process and provide fuel for your child’s morning. Eating a small and healthy meal before and after practices or games will allow replenishment to take place and keep the body’s metabolism operating at its peak. Encourage your child to avoid products that are loaded with sugars like sports drinks.-Hydration is key. The body is comprised primarily of water and without it our brain functioning decreases, or body functions are impaired and serious complications from dehydration can occur. It is recommended that active children need 8-10 glasses of water per day (80-100 oz.) to maintain optimum performance. Sport-drink products can be skipped, as they often contain ingredients that can work against the hydration efforts of the body. Plain water is the best option for children during their day. It is especially important to keep hydrated during games and practices to ensure optimum athletic performance.-Vitamin supplementation has been a hot topic in recent circles. There have been a number of mainstream news articles questioning the efficiency and health benefits of vitamin supplement use. The facts from these studies are often misconstrued and manipulated to benefit a specific point of view. The reality is that a high quality daily vitamin supplement from a reputable health label can provide a growing child more benefits than harm (if any would actually exist). Taking vitamins as instructed on a label or health care provider ensures that the maximum benefits of the supplement are received. A vitamin supplement will compliment a healthy diet thus producing a healthy body. Caution is given in regards to excessive vitamin use. While some vitamins are water soluble and pass through the urine without negative impact on the body, some vitamins are fat soluble (example – Vitamin D) and cannot be passed in the urine. These fat soluble vitamins remain in the body and will build up, possibly creating negative side effects such as headaches, fatigue and nausea. In addition, avoid trendy supplements like Creatine and other “bulking” or “thinning” agents. They are not designed for children or teens to use and often have negative side effects for children and adults alike.-Sleep! As adults we crave sleep. Our lives are constantly on the go and there is often not enough time in each day to focus on getting enough sleep. We tough it out, but sleep time is when the body can rest and recuperate. Growing children need this time, as they are typically more active from their school and extracurricular activities. A minimum of 8 hours sleep is recommended for children, though I recommend they get as much as 10 hours of sleep per night for the best results. The importance of REM cycle sleep’s influence on the body’s hormonal and immune response is well documented.-Self-image can be a struggle for many children and teens. Particularly in athletics, there is an emphasis on having a certain look, muscle tone, strength, etc. Young women can be pressured to lose weight and trim body fat. It is important that they know the importance of eating a healthy diet that supports their body function versus the ill effects of starvation in an attempt to trim weight. Young men are especially susceptible to the pressures of growth and maintenance of lean muscle mass. I recommend having that conversation and talking about safe ways to achieve these results as opposed to quick result additives like dietary supplements, hormonal supplements and use of drugs like steroids.-Chiropractic care can be incorporated into many different aspects of overall health care, and active children are no exception. Just because a child seems physically fit and healthy doesn’t mean that they won’t benefit from chiropractic adjustments. Usually, most patients don’t even realize a certain part of their body was out of alignment or not performing at its best until they come in for an adjustment. With the rate of injury from sports, whether it be a minor tumble or a high impact injury, there is an increased need for proper spinal and osteopathic alignment. The brain must be able to communicate with the rest of the body in a clear and effective manor in order for the body to perform at 100%. The all natural methods used by chiropractic doctors on their patients are optimum for a growing, active child. The benefits of chiropractic adjustments for your child include: proper posture, improved muscle tone, reduced pain from injury or repetitive stress, improved immune function, balancing of hormonal functions, improved sleep, improved digestive function, improved neural and cognitive health (to name just a few).Your child’s health is one of your top concerns in life – one of the most powerful tools you have is to SHOW them how to live a healthy, active life. To your continued success!

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