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Preparing for the start of school sports season is a perfect reminder to schedule your child’s annual well exam. Well exams are done annually throughout children’s lives to ensure normal growth and development, and can be adjusted to include the requirements of a sports physical.

“Ideally, children should have a sports physical well before their season begins” says Dr. Dennis Pfisterer, orthopedic specialist and member of the Holy Name Physicians network. “During a sports physical exam, we will look for any undiagnosed medical conditions that may predispose a student athlete to injury and discuss preventive techniques and conditioning practices that can help maintain a healthy season.”

This pre-season physical is a great opportunity to discuss with your child’s physician tips for proper hydration, diet, stretching and common concussion symptoms.

Here are five tips to help keep kids healthy while playing sports:

  1. Hydration is Key: Emphasize the importance of staying hydrated before, during, and after sports activities. Encourage your child to drink water regularly, especially in hot weather. Sports drinks with electrolytes are appropriate in some cases, but water should be the primary choice for most kids.
  2. Proper Nutrition is a Priority: A well-balanced diet is crucial for young athletes. Make sure they consume a variety of foods rich in carbohydrates, protein, fruits, and vegetables. Carbohydrates provide energy, protein supports muscle growth and repair, while vitamins and minerals are essential for overall health.
  3. Safety Always Comes First: Ensure your child wears appropriate safety gear and equipment for their sport. Helmets, mouthguards, knee pads, and proper footwear can prevent injuries. Teach them the importance of following safety rules and techniques specific to their sport.
  4. Warm-up and Cool Down Every Time: Teach your child the importance of warming up and cooling down before and after sports activities. Simple stretching exercises can help prevent muscle strains and injuries. Encourage them to gradually increase the intensity of their activity to prevent sudden strain.
  5. Balance and Rest are Part of Training: Avoid over-scheduling your child with multiple sports activities or intense training sessions without adequate rest. Rest is crucial for recovery, preventing overuse injuries, and getting the most out of training. Encourage them to balance sports with other interests and ensure they get enough sleep each night.

Remember, it's essential to communicate openly with your child's coach and ensure they are trained in proper techniques and safety protocols. Mid-season check-ups with a doctor can also help monitor your child's overall health and address any concerns related to sports participation.

And, of course, encourage your child to have fun, enjoy the sport, and not put too much pressure on themselves, as mental well-being is just as important as physical health.

To schedule an appointment with a Holy Name pediatrician, call 201-592-9210. If you have questions about sports injury prevention or recovery, find a specialist at holyname.org/ortho or call Pfisterer Orthopaedics at 201-836-1663.