A parent's guide to a successful and injury-free season.
On the one hand you want your young athlete to excel, grow and succeed at their chosen sport. On the other hand it seems like everybody out there wants to put their hands in your wallet. It’s a real balancing act (as if just being a parent wasn’t tough enough, right?)
No matter what your sport, we believe that reducing your athlete’s risk to injury is the top priority. It doesn’t matter how amazing they are at their sport if they’re injured and on the sidelines. There are many sport-specific training camps and programs out there that claim to improve your athlete’s skills but if those programs are subjecting your athletes to conditioning work like repetitive movement or pounding movements without their functional movement quality being screened, then those programs could be putting your kids at risk. This is a growing problem we’re seeing in today’s athletic developmental programs. Programs are putting too much emphasis on skill development and neglecting athlete risk to injury assessment, movement quality, proper
strength training and nutrition needs. The result is that athletes don’t actually get an off-season anymore to rest, recover, and get better for next season.
The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics says "Overuse injuries, over-training, and burnout among adolescents athletes are a growing problem in the United States".
Dr. James Andrews, a consultant for the NY Times says that he "…now sees four times as many overuse injuries in youth sports as he did five years ago and that more children today are having to undergo surgery for chronic sports injuries".
So here is what parents need to know to keep their young athlete safe from injury and healthy:
1. Initial Screening
The initial step before the beginning of any youth athlete's season should be a detailed athlete screening. Screenings provide important information about each athlete that will aid in designing a program to meet individual health and performance needs. The aim of these screenings should be to provide a starting profile of the athlete's baseline physical and medical status. Screening components should include:
After identifying imbalances, movement dysfunctions and other problem indicators, a corrective movement program should be implemented so your athlete will be physically prepared to begin a sport-specific conditioning program.
Once your athlete’s movements have been corrected then, and only then, should they begin a full strength and conditioning program to ultimately make your child stronger, more explosive, faster, and an overall more complete athlete for their sport.
4. Nutrition - Prevention, Rehabilitation, & Education
Often over-looked, this is one of the most important keys to not only optimizing performance, but to preventing injury. Nutrient deficiencies and caloric imbalances significantly increase a growing athlete's risk for injury. Proper nutrition and supplementation guidance is also absolutely necessary during injury rehabilitation. A good sports nutritionist will not only tell your athlete what he/she needs, but will take the time to explain why. Motivation through education is a priceless tool in sport and life.
As captain of young athlete’s support team, parents should communicate with physicians, coaches, trainers and nutritionists regarding assessment findings, corrective movement recommendations, nutrition analysis results and his/her current strength & conditioning program. Most importantly, parents should immediately inform the athlete's support team of any complaints of pain or discomfort, no matter how minor they may seem. Pain is the body's way of communicating that something is not quite right and that information needs to be relayed and assessed. Encourage your young athlete to listen to their body, and to NOT "work through the pain", or "suck it up"!
Interested in protecting your athlete(s) from injury? Tired of your child suffering from injuries? Just have questions? Click here to find out more about our Youth Athlete Program?
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Dr. Brown-Kent is a Chiropractic Physician who earned her DC Degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Port Orange, FL. She also holds a Bachelor's Degree in Food and Nutrition Science from Florida State University and a Master of Science Degree in Health & Human Performance with a concentration in Exercise Science. Dr. Brown-Kent is a 6X IFBB professional figure champion and mother of three.