By Maxine Hattie
It’s March, which for millions of children means the start of spring sports. For the first time in two years, sports clinics and local youth teams can enjoy their favorite sports without physical restrictions. To ensure that your child will have a safe, fun, and productive season, here are some helpful tips:
Get a pre-season physical
Many sports require players to get a physical examination before they begin. You can register your child for a physical at a StarMed Healthcare clinic. Family medicine is what we do! And you can make it an annual event as a “wellness” visit to keep your child healthy.
Get enough sleep
Sleep is critical in the prevention of obesity, mental health issues, injuries, and attention problems, but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that up to 6 in 10 middle schoolers don’t get enough of it. For kids about to dive back into sports, this can result in poor engagement and a higher likelihood of getting hurt. As such, about a week or two before your kids return to their sports, try correcting their sleep hygiene. Some ways to do this involve limiting blue light exposure an hour before bed, keeping their bedrooms cool, and using soothing sounds and scents. Doing so will ensure their bodies are energized in the day and ready for rest at night.
Invest in sun protection
When parents think of protective gear for the sporting season, what comes to mind are helmets, elbow pads, and shin guards. But another form of protection that shouldn’t be overlooked is sun protection. Keep in mind that only one or two instances of blistering sunburns in children can double their lifetime risk of developing melanoma. To prevent this, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests wearing sun-protective clothing and applying broad-spectrum sunscreen. Since many children’s sports are outside, you’ll also want to remind your child (and their coaches!) to re-apply sunscreen every two hours. This way, you can prevent dangerous UV rays from damaging their skin.
Keep them hydrated
Hydration is critical for the body’s systems. Unfortunately, past studies have shown that more than 50% of young people are mildly dehydrated. This can cause problems with energy and concentration. Since physical exertion and exposure to the elements can increase fluid loss, dehydration and its effects can happen more quickly to active kids. As such, make it a point to keep fluids readily available before, during, and after their training. Since reports from NCBI.gov reveal that pediatric dehydration can also be caused by young children’s inability to communicate thirst or to hydrate themselves, make sure there are always drinks ready for them. Before engaging in sports, remind them to fill their water bottles so they can easily drink throughout the day. Afterward, encourage them to replenish your family fridge or drink station so they learn how to get themselves drinks, too.
Prepare seasonal medicines
While spring marks the year’s first sports season, it also begins a key surge in seasonal allergies. As explained in ‘Allergies 101’ on SymptomFind, seasonal allergies are also called hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Because they’re triggered by pollen or mold particles, these allergies are quite common during spring. To ensure that your children’s performance and enjoyment won’t be affected by any hay fever, stock up on antihistamines. While you should only administer this medication as advised by your doctor, it’s helpful to have these on hand early on. If your child is asthmatic, you may also want to prepare their inhalers in advance. Research suggests that spring causes many asthma flare-ups, so you’ll want to have an inhaler ready at home, with your child, and with their coach.
Update their vaccines
The threat of the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t completely behind us. Therefore, you should make sure that your child is properly protected against the virus. Aside from teaching them proper hygiene habits like hand washing, you should also vaccinate your children. As we discussed in our post ‘To Parents Still Deciding About Their Child’s Vaccination’, as we begin to venture back outside, your child will inevitably be exposed to the virus. With a vaccine, you can rest easy that their immune system will be better prepared to fight it off. Should your child get infected, a vaccine will help reduce the chances of a severe infection. StarMed offers COVID-19 vaccinations for children, along with other vaccinations they need to remain as safe as possible.
StarMed Healthcare has two urgent care clinics if your young athlete (or yourself) needs to have an injury examined, x-rayed, or treated. Stay safe, have fun and good luck this season!