7 Tips to Keep Kids Healthy Playing Sports

By Olivia DeLong

Sports can help kids burn off extra energy and stay healthy, but unfortunately injuries among young athletes are very common. More than one million people ages 19 and younger went to emergency rooms for sports injuries in 2013 alone. Concussions, broken bones, sprains, bruises and overuse injuries are some of the most common. Still, injuries vary depending on sport and the type of movement being performed.

“In a runner, we often see shin splints or overuse knee pain, in a swimmer we might see shoulder pain and in a baseball player, elbow or shoulder pain,” says pediatric sports medicine specialist Brooke Pengel, MD. We talked with Dr. Pengel to learn how parents and coaches can help prevent these kid injuries.

Tip #1: Invest in the right gear
Protective gear like helmets and mouth guards won’t work properly if they don’t fit right. And while it may be tempting to recycle hand-me-down cleats and pads, make sure they fit properly and are in good shape before sending your child onto the field.

“A lot of times, the equipment is very expensive. I think recycling can save money if kids are playing multiple sports,” says Dr. Pengel. But, that’s not always the best idea. “You can get into trouble if the equipment is older or if it’s not well maintained. It won’t do its job,” she adds.

Seasoned coaches who know the rules and regulations can help you select the right protective gear. For information about the safest athletic equipment, parents can also visit the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment’s website.

Tip #2: Emphasize technique and using equipment properly
Kids are asked to execute highly athletic strength training maneuvers without knowing the proper form, says Pengel. Practicing such complicated moves incorrectly can cause injuries in young athletes.

Parents should make sure that coaches properly train kids before sending them out to play a game. Stretching and warming up can also help prevent muscle tears, sprains and reduce muscle tension.

Tip #3: Supervise
“Supervision is so important. It can mean the difference between healthy participation and an injury that can actually remove that child from play,” says Pengel.

Your child’s coach should have first aid training, know the signs of a concussion and enforce the safety rules. “As they’re growing and getting stronger, children are not even aware of how their strength can hurt another child,” says Pengel. In any sport where there’s rough contact, the zero tolerance policy should be in place for unsafe play. Children’s skill level should help determine the group or team they’re on. This helps ensure that kids are competing fairly and safely.

Tip #4: Be supportive
There might be specific sports you wish your kindergartener would get involved in, but your kid needs to enjoy the sport, too. “Loss of interest and burnout are very common in children, especially with the athletes who are participating in one sport at the exclusion of another,” says Pengel. If your child seems tired, anxious or reluctant to participate, then it’s time to talk about finding a new sport or activity.

“When kids are young, they don’t really know what they like and if they’re not exposed to a variety of sports, they can get pigeonholed into one sport,” says Pengel.

Talk to your kids about their interests, listen to their thoughts and let them know it’s okay if they want to try another sport. Encouraging athletic activity outside of organized sports can also promote a lifelong enjoyment of fitness.

Tip #5: Practice healthy eating habits
It’s no secret that a healthy diet will help your child power through their games, but what does a healthy diet entail? Kids need enough fuel to participate in sports and they need enough of what’s called energy availability, says Pengel.

A proper balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats is the most important part of a healthy diet because it allows young athletes to perform and recover. And when it comes to encouraging a healthy diet — planning is key.

“Kids are busy and at school most of the day, so planning for nutrition and breaks where they can fuel their body is really important.” Pack lunches and snacks for days when they’re eating on the go so they’re more likely to make better eating decisions. MyPlate.gov is a great resource for healthy eating tips.

Tip #6: Make sure they’re staying hydrated
Hydration is important any time your child gets a lot of physical activity. “During the school year, if kids aren’t bringing a water bottle and drinking throughout the day, it’s very hard for them to catch up after school and in the evening,” says Pengel.

A good rule of thumb: have your child drink every 15 to 20 minutes while being physically active. For high intensity sporting events that last more than one hour, have your kid consume sports drinks with electrolytes. These sports drinks replace sodium and potassium depleted through sweating.

Tip #7: Notify coaches of respiratory issues or allergies
Pengel says that up to one in five children have exercise-induced asthma . “Parents and coaches of athletes need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of asthma attacks and allergic reactions and what to do if they come up on the sports field or in childhood play,” says Pengel.

At the beginning of the season, notify athletic trainers and coaches of your child’s conditions and let them know how to handle any problems. “Thankfully, asthma and respiratory care is very advanced and the treatments to keep kids more comfortable while exercising are exceptional,” says Pengel.

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June 27, 2016 at 3:42 pm Leave a comment

Why Sugar is Bad for Your Rheumatoid Arthiritis

How Sugar Affects Rheumatoid Arthritis

It’s not news that sugary sweet soda is associated with an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, but a 2014 study suggests that it also ups rheumatoid arthritis risk in women. And, if you already have rheumatoid arthritis, sugar isn’t so sweet on your joints.

While scientists do not know for sure how sugar harms your joints, they think it could come down to inflammation. That slow-burning fire is how rheumatoid arthritis attacks your joints and brings on the pain, swelling and stiffness you feel. Excess sugars (like fructose and sucrose, the sugars that make junk food taste so good) are thought to add more fuel to the flame. And, of course, too much soda can pile on the pounds, which further adds to RA risk.

It gets worse: Sugar also ups your risk of other dangerous diseases that often tag along with RA, such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. According to some studies, RA sufferers have up to twice the risk of cardiovascular disease and a 50% increased risk of diabetes. So cutting back on sugar is especially smart for people with RA.

The good news is that you don’t have to completely neglect your sweet tooth when you cut back on sugar. Try these five alternatives to satisfy your sweet cravings and keep RA inflammation and other diseases at bay.
•Stop drinking sugar. You already know soda is bad for your joints, but you may be surprised to learn that sports, energy drinks and even fruit juices are loaded with the sweet stuff. Drink skim milk, black tea or water instead.
•Sweeten your a.m. routine with honey. While honey still contains sucrose and fructose, some experts suggest it’s sweeter than table sugar, so you’re satisfied with less. Just a drizzle in your tea or oatmeal should do the sweet trick.
•Ditch the syrup. Just one tablespoon of sticky-sweet maple syrup is 50 calories, which can add up when your drowsy, hungry self is sitting in front of a stack of pancakes. Luckily, fresh fruit or pure fruit purees could be just as sweet atop your morning flapjacks.
•Stir in cinnamon. Cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant that helps your body process blood glucose. Use a cinnamon stick to stir your tea, hot chocolate or coffee in place of flavored creamers. You can also sprinkle it into your muffin batter for a tasty twist.
•Make your own pasta sauce. Ready-made pasta sauce is packed with extra sugar. Make your own sauce with crushed, canned tomatoes to slash the sweet stuff from your dinner. Find out five more hidden sources of sugar.

Need more inspiration? Try some healthier versions of family-favorite desserts like chocolate-cherry pudding, classic cheesecake and hot pineapple and bananas with ice cream.

This content originally appeared on the website of HCA partner sharecare.com.

May 28, 2016 at 2:56 pm Leave a comment

Broken Bones in the Child

1. Which bones do children commonly break?

Anytime a bone breaks, it is synonymous with fracture. The vast majority of pediatric fractures are in the upper extremity, with forearm fractures being the most common specific site. In fact, forearm fractures account for nearly half of all childhood fractures. Aside from forearm fractures, finger/hand fractures are common, as well as clavicle fractures. Kids can certainly sustain a fracture of the lower extremity, such as the shin bone or ankle, but this happens less often.

2. How can I tell if my child has a broken bone?

For kids that are old enough to talk and communicate with us, the signs of a fracture are more obvious. They will certainly let you know that the site of the fracture is painful, and they won’t want to use that extremity. Of course, if the fracture is severe, there may be obvious deformity and swelling. Younger kids who can’t quite let you know how they feel will not want to use their arm if it is fractured, or walk on their leg if that is the affected site. With any concern of a fracture, it is vital that your child undergo evaluation with x-rays.

3. How is a wrist fracture treated in children?

Wrist fractures in the pediatric population are generally treated with casting. In some situations a wrist brace may also be an appropriate course of treatment. Depending on the severity, the length of immobilization in a cast or brace ranges from approximately 3-6 weeks.

4. What happens if my child fractures the growth plate?

The growth plate (also known as the physis) is the soft part and area of growing tissue near the ends of the long bones in children and adolescents. The important thing to remember is that because of their soft nature, growth plates are extremely vulnerable to injury, and are weaker than the surrounding tendons and ligaments. When a child fractures a growth plate, treatment is similar to any type of fracture, requiring a period of immobilization. If the fracture crosses the area of bone surrounding the growth plate, that type of fracture is generally more severe and typically requires a longer period of casting. More severe growth plate fractures are monitored even after casting is complete to ascertain that the bone continues to grow as expected.

5. Why is it important to have an expert treat your child’s fracture?

Children are not just “little adults” when it comes to their fractures, as their bones are growing and have unique qualities. Also, fractures in kids have distinctive properties, and special attention is required to diagnose and treat pediatric fractures and guarantee adequate healing while avoiding growth disturbance.

April 27, 2016 at 7:15 pm Leave a comment

Late Night Text Talk Causing Kids’ Sleep Problems

Cell phones and computers… we love ‘em (most of the time). We can keep in touch with our spouses and kids, no matter what. If we’re not 100% sure what clouds are made of, we can find out instantly (tiny ice crystals and air). What would we do without them? Simple: We’d sleep better! And so would our kids.

Turns out that 8- to 22-year-olds who send texts and emails, surf the Web, or play computer games around bedtime have sleep troubles ranging from restlessness and insomnia to leg pain, reports a new study. The daytime effects: anxiety, depression, and learning difficulties. Not what anybody (your child or you) needs.

Healthy sleep at night does for kids what it does for you: boosts alertness, productivity, creativity, and general well-being. Improves sex quality, too (that one’s just for you). So make it happen.
•Put kids’ cell phones to bed — say, in your closet. Remember sneaking a flashlight under the covers after lights-out? Some things don’t change. Half of the parents in the study said they didn’t know their kids were surfing and texting hours after bedtime. Clear TVs and computers out of bedrooms, too (including yours).
•Limit total screen time to 2 hours a day. The typical kid watches 3 hours of TV alone. That’s time not spent playing outside or reading, activities that are more likely to induce sweet dreams.
•Keep it down. Kids can’t sleep if your TV is blaring and your cell phone is beeping. Besides, all that screen time isn’t good for your ZZZs either.

Unplug. Sleep tight.

This content originally appeared on the website of HCA partner sharecare.com.

February 29, 2016 at 8:05 pm Leave a comment

Healthy Snacks for Kids Mean Healthy-Hearted Adults

Sweet tangerines and juicy cherries. Crunchy carrots and crisp snow peas. Pack them in kids’ lunches, put a bowlful on the kitchen counter, keep them front and center in the fridge. Enticing kids to munch more fruits and veggies is smart for reasons you can probably recite faster than your phone number (teeth, weight, skin, bones, immune system). Here’s a new one: healthier hearts when your kids have grown up.

Children who eat produce nearly every day develop arteries that are more flexible (researchers tracked people for 27 years to prove this; they did other things, too). Having arteries that resemble bendy straws is a good thing; stiff arteries make your heart work harder, and clogs are more likely. Here’s how much your child needs to eat to stay healthy and active.

If your kids are about as interested in broccoli and eggplant as in math homework (in other words, NOT), these parent-tested strategies can boost the produce quotient without a food fight:
•Eat them yourself. When parents eat their veggies, kids do, too. They’re hard-wired to mimic what you do: Monkey see, monkey do.
•Keep on offering them. Pack red pepper strips or broccoli in lunches. Add sliced kiwi or mango. If they come home untouched, don’t flip out. Just do it again and again. It can take 10 to 15 “introductions” for a youngster to try — and like — a new food.
•Invite a friend of your child’s over who likes veggies — your guy may model the friend’s behavior.
•Don’t force the issue. High-pressure tactics make dinnertime a downer and can turn your child off to the brussels sprouts you’ve finally learned to love.

Learn how to live with — and feed — a picky eater.

This content originally appeared on the website of HCA partner sharecare.com and was written by Mehmet C. Oz, MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD.

February 1, 2016 at 5:07 pm Leave a comment

Concussions: Keeping Your Child’s Head in the Game (& Protected!)

If your child has suffered a head injury on the field or at the playground, you can take an active role in getting them the proper medical care. We have learned more about how head injuries can affect young athletes and you can both support your children’s recreational activities and protect their health.
Organizations are beginning to come out with safety guidelines, like the recently published official policy on tackling in youth football from the American Academy of Pediatricians’ Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. The CDC website is also a great concussion resource. These are great places to start educating yourself on this important topic.

Parents On the Front Lines
Some parents know about the classic signs and symptoms of a concussion, but some of the more subtle warning signs may be more difficult to identify.
Concussions can show up in many different ways depending on the age of child and the type of injury. Because Colorado legislation says that a medical professional has to evaluate any athlete who displays signs of suspected concussion, it’s really important for you to know how to recognize signs and symptoms. Anyone who coaches children ages 11 and up (recreation or competitive) must be certified in concussion recognition under the law.

Physical signs of concussion include:
• Headaches
• Nausea
• Dizziness
• Loss of balance
• Blurred/double vision
• Sensitive to noise and/or light
Mental signs of concussion include:
• Trouble concentrating/feeling “foggy”
• Change in emotions
• Difficulty sleeping, or sleeping too much
• Memory problems
For more information on how you can help your child’s concussion treatment, visit Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children’s REAP Concussion Management Program website.

When To Seek Medical Attention
Our team’s knowledge and expertise makes us uniquely qualified to treat sports-related head injuries. We are dedicated to helping return your child to playing shape after an injury.
If you’re worried that your child’s injury may be more than a “bump on the head”, use this symptom scale to help understand your child’s symptoms. However, remember that if your child is showing significant signs or symptoms they should be seen and evaluated by a medical provider.

Getting Back in The Game
If your child is diagnosed with a concussion, know that most of the time it will get better. Here’s what you as a parent can control to get your child get better:
• Remove them from activity until cleared by a medical provider
• Limit all screen time to give the brain time to rest and heal
• Notify your child’s school so you can partner with them to make necessary adjustments
Every concussion is different and it is hard to predict how long recovery can take; however most athletes (90 percent) recover within two to three weeks. Certain things can make it harder to recover. These include:
• Multiple concussions
• Having ADD, ADHD, or migraines
• Females tend to take longer to heal from concussion injuries.
Because every case is different, be sure to tell your child how important it is to let their brain fully heal, no matter how long it may take.

Supporting Your Athlete
Youth sports and activities are an important part of a child’s development and help keep them healthy, but head injuries and concussions can quickly take the fun out of the game. Kids with active lifestyles may be injured as part of school or community sports, but the threat of head trauma shouldn’t keep them from participating in these activities. Having trained medical professional, such as certified athletic trainers, available during practices, games and activities can make a big difference in knowing when a doctor needs to properly diagnose and treat sports-related head injuries.
If your child gets a concussion, our staff is here to support you. We provide comprehensive concussion treatment to your child. We are the only concussion clinic in Denver where your child sees both a medical doctor and a clinical psychologist. Our psychologist communicates directly with the school at every visit to help support their recovery.
By following up-to-date safety regulations and recognizing the signs and symptoms of concussion, parents, coaches and teachers can help keep kids safe – both on and off the field. Play ball!

** This blog post was written to serve as guidance for recognizing potential concussions in young athletes and should not be taken as concrete medical advice, nor do the views above reflect the views of Rocky Mountain Pediatric Orthopedics or the HealthONE organization. As with any medical questions or concerns, especially in regards to head injuries, it is imperative to make an appointment with your physician for proper diagnosis and treatment.

December 23, 2015 at 11:02 pm Leave a comment

How to Boost Your Child’s Memory

Are you worried that your child has short-term memory problems that are affecting their schoolwork? Don’t give up: kids (and adults for that matter) can train their mind to hold onto incoming information.

Working memory problems have nothing to do with I.Q.—or, in many instances, with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). But they do make it difficult for kids to hone their reading skills or master math; most children identified as “poor readers” or “arithmetic disabled” have problems with working memory.

If you suspect your child has working memory challenges try the following tips:

1.Reduce sensory overload. No TV while doing homework; no music while reading.
2.Work with your child’s strengths. If he or she’s skilled visually, but doesn’t listen well, convey information through images more than spoken words.
3.Help your child focus on one task at a time. Sequential multitasking works, overlapping does not.
4.Teach “chunking.” Group instructions or information into bite-size packages to be digested one at a time. Ask teachers to do that with their instructions, too.
5.Encourage physical activity. Physical activity improves working memory. Provide brain fuel with DHA-omega-3 rich foods and supplements.
6.Get your child evaluated by a professional. But, don’t automatically opt for medication at the first sign of a learning disability! For more info check out http://www.ncld.org.
This content originally appeared on the website of HCA partner sharecare.com.

September 16, 2015 at 2:48 pm Leave a comment

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