As summer starts to wrap up, your young athlete might be gearing up for the upcoming school year filled with practices and games. Helping kids optimize their athletic performance is one of our favorite things to do at CentreSpring MD + Peds. Here are just 4 ways you can help your kids optimize their athletic achievement.
It may not seem obvious that sleep can influence athletic performance, but it certainly does. The rest and recovery that our bodies get during our nighttime slumber are crucial for the restoration and rebuilding of muscle fibers. Not getting enough sleep could mean more propensity to injury and less muscular endurance. In addition, poor sleep can decrease your young athlete’s ability to make split decisions or stay focused during a crucial moment in the game.
- Healthy Fats
We also don’t think about fat intake improving sports ability but anti-inflammatory Omega-3’s help decrease aches and pains associated with a vigorous training session or a competitive game. Your child can get great Omega-3’s from wild-caught salmon, herring or sardines. If eating fish isn’t your kid’s thing, you can add flax meal, hemp seeds or chia seeds to steel cut oats or a green smoothie. One of my favorite Omega-3 sources are raw walnuts. Keep them with you as a go-to snack for your athlete.
Most kids don’t drink enough fluids to begin with, but athletes need even more fluids to maintain hydration during strenuous activity. On the day of a big game or a long practice, your child should start drinking water well before the event. During the game, instead of sports drinks (which are loaded with artificial colors and sugars), offer them coconut water to replenish their electrolytes and provide hydration without causing fullness or nausea.
Afterwards, a protein smoothie will hit the spot. Load some spinach, frozen fruit, real coconut milk, hemp protein and a dash of sea salt in the blender, and cheers! The protein will help build muscle; the fruit and spinach will provide vital nutrients and antioxidants; and the coconut milk and sea salt will help replenish electrolytes and provide healthy fat for a post-game energy boost.
- Athletic Diversity
Get your kids involved in a variety of sports from an early age so they can become well-rounded athletes. For instance, even if your child’s main sport is soccer, having him learn gymnastics or martial arts will improve his soccer performance by enhancing balance, flexibility, and agility. If organized gymnastics or martial arts aren’t an option, adding a home-practice of yoga and/or jump rope will help your athlete become more limber and nimble, and will really strengthen her mind-body connection.
At CentreSpring MD + Peds, we offer a Sports Optimization visit – a chance to make sure your young athlete is not only ready for their sport, but truly optimized for best performance. At the Sports Optimization visit, you can expect a thorough medical history and complete physical exam, an EKG to screen for potential cardiac problems, and the opportunity to dive deeper into nutritional status, diet and lifestyle modifications for best and healthiest sports participation.
Categories: Pediatric Wellness