How To Keep Our Young Athletes Healthy
Now that Summer break is upon us (I hear some of you groaning and some of you cheering), kids often ramp up their athletic activity. They aren’t in school, so often this is the time when they go off to camp to practice their favorite sport or increase their time in the gym or on the ice. Practice makes perfect right? Or could this be a time when kids have a little time off from the constantness of sports they are often experiencing during the school year? Professional athletes take months off when their season if over. Let me repeat this: professional athletes take months off.
It makes me wonder why, then, is it a good idea to continue pushing our still growing children 12 months of the year? I don’t mean to imply that summer is a good time for kids to be sitting around. I think it is a good time for kids to run around, cross train, let their bodies be less scheduled and move in ways they don’t have time to do during the school year or while in season. Summer is not a bad time to attend a camp of their favorite sport, but camp is 1 or 2 weeks long, then let them move and play in ways different from their primary sport.
It will make them better athletes in the long run because it allows different muscles to develop and support them better. Cross training or just playing in a different way also allows for better coordination and different ways for their brain to develop. It keeps overuse injuries like stress fractures from developing. It also keeps kids from being burnt out early, keeping them passionate about their favorite sport. I think in this day and age, kids have such pressure on them to be the best at their sport. Except they’re kids, still growing and developing in their muscles and in their brains. I think a good rule of thumb to remember is to just let kids be kids.