How to Keep Sports Positive for Kids

Roughly three out of four families in the U.S. have at least one child who plays an organized sport, which is around 45 million kids. Yet, nearly 80 percent of those kids have stopped playing organized sports by the time they’re 15. Youth sports is a multi-billion-dollar industry these days, but participation in sports seems to be declining – by as much as 20 percent in some sports. While there is a lot of debate as to why any parent who has kids who participate probably has a few opinions of their own.

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High School Athletes: Staying Safe in the Heat

Teen Playing TennisMany high school athletes have already returned to sports camps in preparation for the fall season. The challenge is that during July, August and even September, we can experience some of the hottest days of the year. With the high temps, athletes need to be aware of how environmental factors like heat and humidity can affect their health and athletic performance.

How Heat Affects the Body

As heat and humidity rise our body has to work harder to cool off. Our bodies cool primarily through the evaporation of sweat. When temperatures rise, we produce more sweat to cool the body. As the humidity rises, it becomes more difficult for the sweat to evaporate hampering the ability of the body to cool off. It is one reason why it is important for athletes to drink fluids during the day and at practice to stay adequately hydrated, and to modify practice routines based on weather conditions.

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Protecting Gymnasts from Injury

In gymnastics, the demand for strength, flexibility and aesthetics – or form and appearance – combined with repetitive impact can be taxing on young bodies and put them at greater risk for injuries and strains.

“The most common location of injury for female gymnasts is the lower extremity – ankle sprains and knee overuse injuries. Traumatic knee injuries include a cruciate rupture or meniscus tear” explains Jan Mussallem, UW Health physical therapist. “Male gymnasts tend to experience upper extremity injuries in the shoulder and wrist.”

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Importance of the Off Season

Off-season training isn’t just for athletes with hopes of one day playing on college teams, or those competing at a high level. UW Health Sports Performance coach Alison Regal explains that most youth athletes can benefit – although how they approach it and the benefits they gain will be different depending on their age.

To figure out what’s best, it is helpful to understand the different developmental stages.

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How to Prevent and Treat a Torn ACL in Kids

An injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) can be frustrating for adults, but it’s often devastating for young athletes who are eager to rejoin their friends on the playing field. It’s becoming more common for active kids to tear this important ligament that controls the stability and mobility of the knee, and the recovery process can take up to a year or more.

“The highest risk category is kids who are going through growth quickly because their bodies have elongated quickly and their bodies act as levers,” explains Dan Enz, PT, SCS, LAT, a physical therapist with the UW Health Sports Rehabilitation Department. “And with teens, who are often more active in competition and playing sports year-round, their bodies are sometimes growing faster than they can control. That lever puts increased force through their knee and puts them at greater risk.”

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