Safety First: The Prescription for a Long, Fun Fall Sports Season

Monday, August 13, 2012 11:41 AM

As summer vacation winds down, you and your kids may be getting ready for the upcoming academic year and school sports season. This preparation may include revisiting equipment needs, as well as scheduling an annual or sports physical.

Depending on the sport and school, many students who plan to play on their school’s sports team are required to get a sports physical before he or she is allowed to practice or play. Even if your child isn’t playing a sport, physicals are recommended for students starting in kindergarten through high school.

Cherise Russo, DO, Sports Medicine physician at NorthShore, gives her recommendations for prepping for the school sports season:

  • Schedule an annual physical with your child’s physician. Physicals are an opportunity to get a comprehensive look at your child’s growth, weight, body functions, mental state and maturity. They help to provide a good year-over-year baseline for your child’s health record. Make sure to schedule your child’s back-to-school physical at least two weeks before tryouts and practices in case any tests or labs have to be checked prior to receiving clearance.
  • Do an equipment evaluation. Depending on the sport, your child may need new equipment and clothing. Be sure that helmets, shoes and clothing fit appropriately. It’s also not a bad idea to see if any of the guidelines or safety measures on equipment has changed since the last year.
  • Prevent Heat Illness.  Heat illness ranges from heat cramps to heat stroke.  When heat illness strikes, it is important not to try to practice through it! Inform your athlete to notify coaches if he or she is not feeling well during practice.  Be prepared before the first day of practice.  Gradually increase workouts and intensity approximately two weeks before practice.    Wear loose-fitting clothing and stay well hydrated.  Urine should look like lemonade and not concentrated like apple juice.
  • Start good hydration habits. Two hours before exercise an athlete should drink at least 16 oz of fluids.  During exercise, drink at least 7–10 oz every 20 minutes or sooner if thirsty.  After a workout or competition, drink 24 oz (3 cups) per pound body weight lost through sweat. These are general guidelines and vary among individuals.  It is also helpful to try to drink fluids with electrolytes, like sodium, as drinking only water may make things worse. It is best to limit and eliminate the consumption of caffeinated beverages.
  • Get to know your certified athletic trainer (ATC).  Reassure your athlete that he or she shouldn’t  be afraid to see the athletic trainer if  an injury is suspected. The athletic trainer can help your child get back to playing at a top performance level sooner.

How many sports are your kids involved with at school?

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