3D Physical Therapy
Healthbeat Article
August 12, 2016

Byline: Jessica Chesser, Co-owner, 3D PT
______________________________________________________________________

Parents: Use These Tips to Help Your Student Athlete Stay Injury-Free

Parents of student athletes play a special role in their health and well-being. With many students participating in sports year-round, injury-prevention should be a top priority for both athletes and their families. Fortunately, there are some simple things that parents can do to help their children avoid injuries when participating in athletic pursuits including:

1. Help student athletes prepare for their sport. One of the most important things parents can do is to ensure that their child gets a sports physical exam before they participate in organized sports. This type of exam, completed by a doctor, a nurse practitioner or another qualified clinician, will identify any health issues that should be taken into consideration, or which may impact their performance.

2. Forge a partnership with coaching staff. Parents should provide their athlete’s key personal information including emergency contact phone numbers, doctor office contact numbers as well as medical and allergy information. In addition, keep in touch with coaches if you have any concerns throughout the season—and encourage your child to do the same.

3. Own up to injuries. While student athletes may be disappointed to miss an important game or frustrated not to be able to practice, as a parent it is important to make sure your child sits out if they have an injury. Playing when hurt often makes an injury worse, or sets kids up for additional injuries on top of the ones they already have. Also, student athletes should be encouraged to tell his or her coach if they are injured during a practice or game. Continuing to play is likely to make matters worse.

4. Encourage regular warm-ups and cool downs. While coaches will generally set aside time before and after every practice and game for athletes to warm up and cool down, parents should also encourage student athletes to do the same when they practice or train on their own.

5. Help your athlete hydrate. Parents should take note of the signs and symptoms of dehydration and other forms of heat illness if their child participates in a sport that takes place outside in hot weather. In addition, make sure that your athlete brings a bottle of water to their practices and games. Parents should also encourage young athletes to stay well-hydrated.

6. Arrange for appropriate sports gear. For any athlete, having the right, properly-fitted gear can prevent injuries, or at least reduce their severity. Make sure athletes use the correct equipment when participating in both practices and games. Usually, coaches will provide a list of the equipment and other gear needed, but as always, don’t be afraid to ask!

7. Play it safe with concussions. Student athletes, their coaches and their parents need to know the signs and symptoms of a concussion. This information is extremely important as concussions can lead to debilitating injuries. Even if a concussion is only suspected, an athlete (regardless of their age) must be removed from play until a medical professional clears them to return.

8. Require proper rest. Like all athletes, student athletes who do not get enough time away from their sports may develop overuse injuries. To prevent problems related to overuse, parents should encourage their children to take regular rest days once or twice a week and to take some time off from their sport periodically.

Taking two to three weeks off from sports-specific demands in the off-season is ideal. During this rest period, student athletes can still work out; however, their physical activities should modify the regular demands they place on their bodies when participating in their sport. In addition, if at any time a student athlete has ongoing pain or injury they should seek medical attention.

Don’t stand on the sidelines when it comes to your student athlete’s well-being! Use the tips above as a starting point for supporting your child’s athletic goals while reducing their chances of injury.

Jessica Chesser is a physical therapist and the co-owner of 3D Physical Therapy and Sports Training (3D PT) which provides functional physical therapy and sports performance training at its Adrian and Tecumseh, Michigan clinics. For more information about 3D PT, please visit www.mi3dpt.com.