September is here and it’s time for your youth athletes to get back in the swing of things after a summer of club sports, vacations, or rest. In addition to their return to sports, your kid is also returning to school, homework, and decreased free time during the day. Not only is your kid now training more consistently and intensely during the week, but they’re also spending a longer percentage of their day sitting at a desk which is rough on a sore body.
You want your kid to perform at their best, so you dedicate hours to supporting their training routine, but more often than not, these kids would benefit more from additional in-season recovery work than additional training hours. Check out the four items below for a pre-season inventory and advice on how to implement these items into your kid’s day for optimal performance.
Not only is your kid now training more consistently and intensely during the week, but they’re also spending a longer percentage of their day sitting at a desk which is rough on a sore body.
1) Foam Roller:
- One of the most widely used tools for both mobility and recovery is a foam roller. These get a lot of attention in the media, but many people aren’t too sure how or when to use them. My recommendation is to use them both before and after practice or games. Rolling out the quads, calves, and upper back for 1 minute each can usually make short term improvements in mobility and help your kid’s tissues feel looser prior to the start of practice or a game. Some athletes also like to use rolling as a part of their cool down or next-day recovery to reduce stiffness and soreness that developed after a competition or workout.
2) Lacrosse Ball:
- When you or your kid needs more targeted tissue work, (think a knot in the quad/calf or soreness in upper back), a lacrosse ball (or tennis ball) can be a great tool for loosening up those deeper areas before practice. The best way to loosen up with a lacrosse ball is to use bodyweight to pin the tissue down and then perform a simple movement while keeping pressure on the ball.
3) Resistance Bands:
- Bands have almost infinite uses when it comes to sports. Whether your kid is nursing an injury, working on strengthening, or interested in injury prevention, having a set of varying resistance bands is an easy solution. Many kids have relative hip weakness due to their quick growth spurts, and having a few banded movements to keep the hips strong will be beneficial. Likewise, shoulder stability is important for overhead athletes (baseball, volleyball,) and there are a few key exercises that can help bulletproof your kids shoulder.
Whether your kid is nursing an injury, working on strengthening, or interested in injury prevention, having a set of varying resistance bands is an easy solution.
4) Recovery Routine:
- Does your kid come home from a nighttime game, eat a granola bar, and head straight to bed only to wake up to a busy next day? If so, there’s hidden potential to not only improve your kid’s performance, but reduce their risk for injury as well.
To start, a post competition meal should be moderate to large and contain enough nutrients to replace those lost through sweat and burned through activity. Depending on the size of the athlete, anywhere from 20-50 grams of protein should be consumed in order to support muscle rebuilding (can be substituted with a protein shake if necessary). Post-workout carbs are equally important, with anywhere from 2-5 cups of carbs (potatoes, rice, pasta, grains, etc.) advisable depending on the size of your athlete.
To start, a post competition meal should be moderate to large and contain enough nutrients to replace those lost through sweat and burned through activity.
To further enhance your kid’s recovery, post-competition sleep should be as uninterrupted and as lengthy as possible, and next day activities should be active, but less than 70% intensity. For example, heading to a pool can be a great way to keep your kid’s body moving in a fun way. Other recovery tools are available at Sports Performance Physical Therapy, including the NormaTec compression system, the V-pulse ice/compression device, and the Compex Handheld Electric Stimulation Unit, all which can be scheduled without an appointment for your convenience.
To further enhance your kid’s recovery, post-competition sleep should be as uninterrupted and as lengthy as possible.
Bottom Line: In-season recovery seems to be a neglected concept, but it is one that can dramatically enhance your kid’s performance on the field. Building improved mobility and strength using foam rollers, lacrosse balls, and resistance bands can help prevent injury during the season., and putting together a post-competition recovery routine can keep your kid performing at a high level for the entirety of the season.
As always, I hope this helps! If you have any questions or would like to read about certain topics, send us an email at TeamSP@SportsPerformancePT.com.
-Dr. Marissa Rescott, PT, DPT, CF-L1
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