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Helping Your Kids Stay Healthy During School Sports

Helping Your Kids Stay Healthy During School Sports

According to the National Center for Health Statistics and the CDC, more than 54 percent of children aged 6-17 participate in sports. With the growing popularity of sports like lacrosse and continued growth in the most popular sports in the U.S. such as football, volleyball, swimming, and track and field, your kids have many opportunities to stay active and get involved with a sport they love. However, participating in sports may mean a higher risk of injury.

A recent study by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons found that more than five million injuries were sustained by high school students in a four-year period. There also is an increase in injuries requiring surgery in student athletes. Whether your children participate during just one season or throughout the year, helping them stay healthy is crucial.

Here are some tips on how to promote health and avoid injuries during school sports seasons by focusing on healthy nutrition, stretching and efficient time management.

Nutritional Health

Proper nutrition is critical to athletic performance and recovery. Your kids need to fuel their bodies correctly to avoid injury.

Balanced Meals

Ensure your child’s diet includes a balance of protein for muscle repair, carbohydrates for energy, and fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals.


Staying hydrated is essential for maintaining peak performance. Encourage your child to drink water throughout the day, not just during practices or games. If your child plays outside during the cold months of fall or plays inside, they may feel like they need less water due to less perspiration. However, it’s important to refuel their body consistently through hydration.

Pre and Post-Game Snacks

Provide healthy snacks before and after games or practices. Pre-game snacks should be rich in carbs for energy (like bananas), while post-game snacks should include protein for muscle recovery (like a peanut butter sandwich).

Stretching and Warm-ups

Injury prevention through proper stretching and warm-up exercises is a critical component of any sport.

Dynamic Warm-ups

Encourage your child to engage in dynamic warm ups before practices and matches. These could include jogging, jumping jacks or lunges. They prepare the body for exercise by gradually increasing heart rate and circulation.

Regular Stretching

Stretching before and after games can help increase flexibility, reduce muscle tension and prevent injuries. Ensure your child doesn’t skip this step even if they’re eager to start playing or get home and relax.

Rest and Time Management

Rest is just as important as exercise in a young athlete's routine. This can be difficult, especially with full schedules of games, homework and other extracurricular activities. Here's how to help your child manage their time efficiently:

Adequate Sleep

Ensure your child gets enough sleep each night. Lack of sleep can affect their performance and increase the risk of injury.

Scheduled Downtime

Help your child create a schedule that includes downtime for relaxation and recovery. This balance is essential in preventing burnout and overuse injuries. Downtime without phones before bed can significantly affect your child’s sleep schedule and energy.

Homework and School Balance

Schoolwork is just as important as sports. Ensure your child has enough time to complete their homework and study for exams, reducing stress levels. However, ensure they aren’t neglecting sleep for their studies.

Regular Health Check-ups

Regular health check-ups can help catch any potential issues early. Consider scheduling a physical exam before the sports season begins to ensure your child is fit to participate. During the season, if your child is experiencing any pain, get them checked in case the pain is rooted in a deeper issue and find a treatment plan to maintain their strength and health and allow them to continue participating safely.

Primary and Specialty Care in Ohio

Southwest General Health Center offers primary and specialty care physicians to help families stay healthy. To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment, visit us at