With fall quickly approaching, this is the perfect time to get your child or teenager ready for their fall activities. Particularly for older children who may have tryouts coming up soon, it is important to start preparing in order for them to be ready and to reduce the risk of them sustaining various types of sports injuries. In order to help your child get the most of their sports experience, our Florida orthopedic specialists recommend you keep these six things in mind.

1. Invest in High-Quality Footwear and Protective Equipment

Different sports require different types of footwear and equipment, and this is not something you want to cheap out on. Wearing the wrong kind of shoes can increase the risk of ]sports injuries as well as reduce the speed or accuracy of your child. In some cases, orthotic inserts may be needed. Similarly, in contact sports or other activities that require protective clothing or gear, make sure that you invest in high-quality equipment since using inadequate or wrongly sized equipment may not protect your child from injury as effectively as the appropriate equipment would.

2. Begin Conditioning Early

Fall sports are often highly demanding and require rigorous training. While it is tempting to take the whole summer off to relax and play in the sun, this is the perfect time to start to gradually increase the amount of physical activity your child is getting. Start slowly, and make sure that they always warm up beforehand.

3. Emphasize the Importance of Stretching

Proper stretching after exercise is one of the most important ways to reduce the risk of sustaining a sports injury. Teach your child how important stretching is and what the benefits are. For those of you who are current or former athletes yourselves, show them some examples and how to best execute the different stretches. Otherwise, talk to their coaches or other parents for some suggestions.

4. Make Sure That Your Child Eats Well

While eating well is important for everyone, it is especially Important for growing children. Foods high in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals are essential for sustaining this rapid growth and allow children and teenagers to perform at their maximum level, both at school and while playing sports. A well-balanced and healthy breakfast is especially important to get them through each day.

The night before a large sporting event, make sure that your child eats plenty of carbohydrates as well as some protein while avoiding overly fatty meals. After a game or other sports activity, eating more carbohydrates as well as a moderate amount of protein will help with muscle recovery and provide some much-needed energy. Children will also need healthy snacks before and after exercise as well as throughout the day. Fruits, nuts and granola bars are some examples of healthy snacks that will keep them going.

5. Teach Them About the Importance of Hydration

In general, there is no need for your child to drink anything but water during exercise. However, if the activity is highly demanding and the duration of the exercise is over an hour, a sports drink may help them recover and prevent them from losing too many electrolytes and becoming dehydrated. Even when your child is not exercising, get them in the habit of sipping water throughout the day. Hydration is also important to control body temperature and to avoid heat stroke when exercising outside in the fall sun.

6.  Make Sure That They Enjoy It!

It is important that your child enjoys the sport he or she is playing. If they aren’t, try to find another activity that they will. Staying active throughout both childhood and adulthood is associated with a healthier and longer life, and if they are not having a good time, it is unlikely that they will continue with the activity once they get older.

By following all of these simple suggestions, you can reduce the risk of your child sustaining sports injuries and instead be able to focus on how much fun sports can be and on all of the benefits that come with being active.

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