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Kids Sports: Parents Survival Guide

How to sit on the side­lines like a pro

With sports sea­son in full swing, being pre­pared for the sea­son ahead can be a game chang­er for you and your ath­lete. Whether your child is on a recre­ation­al sports team or plays on a trav­el league, being a spec­ta­tor involves plan­ning ahead. From unex­pect­ed ways to stay hydrat­ed to tak­ing small breaks to move around, Fam­i­ly Med­i­cine Physi­cian, Kather­ine Par­en­ti, MD, shares tips on how to keep the whole team cheer­ing this season.

Stay Hydrat­ed
As tem­per­a­tures rise, it is impor­tant to stay hydrat­ed to sup­port your over­all health and to reg­u­late crit­i­cal bod­i­ly func­tions. While water is an effec­tive source of hydra­tion, there are a vari­ety of foods and bev­er­ages that can help keep you hydrat­ed as well, including:

Drinks

  • Coconut water
  • Decaf­feinat­ed tea
  • Sports drinks that replen­ish electrolytes

Food

  • Cucum­ber
  • Water­mel­on
  • Can­taloupe

Signs of Dehy­dra­tion
You are at a greater risk of dehy­dra­tion when you spend long peri­ods of time out­side dur­ing the warmer months. Keep an eye out for signs of dehy­dra­tion such as a dry, sticky mouth, headache and less fre­quent urination.

Fuel for Sus­tained Ener­gy
Nutri­ent-rich snacks can pro­vide you with the ener­gy you need to cheer for your team from the side­lines. Portable snacks that are low in sug­ar and pro­vide fat and pro­tein are key to pro­vid­ing your body with steady ener­gy. Trail mix, apple slices, bananas with nut but­ter and veg­gies with hum­mus are all great options to keep ener­gy lev­els high.

Pro­tect Your­self From the Sun
Many sum­mer sports take place out­doors, often with­out many areas for tak­ing a break in the shade. Tak­ing the prop­er pre­cau­tions to pro­tect your skin and eyes from the sun is impor­tant in order to stay com­fort­able as you cheer your team to the fin­ish line. 

  • Apply sun­screen 30 min­utes before the game and reap­ply every two hours.
  • Help pro­tect your eyes from harm­ful UV rays by wear­ing sun­glass­es while you are outdoors.
  • Cool off and cre­ate a shad­ed area for your­self with an umbrella.

Signs of Over­heat­ing
Being over­heat­ed for a long peri­od of time can pose risks to your health. Heat exhaus­tion is pre­ventable, but, when left untreat­ed, can lead to heat stroke. If heat exhaus­tion is sus­pect­ed, move indoors, undress and lie down. If you are unable to move indoors, lie in the shade or cool water. Symp­toms of heat exhaus­tion include cool, clam­my skin, weak­ness and nau­sea or vomiting.

Get Com­fort­able
Whether your ath­lete is play­ing indoors or out, mak­ing sure that you have a com­fort­able seat will keep you focused on the game until the end. If your child’s sport has you watch­ing the game from the bleach­ers, there are a few ways to make your­self more com­fort­able. Prac­tice good pos­ture to keep pres­sure off of your lum­bar spine and bring along a bench pad or com­fort­able blan­ket to soft­en your seat. If you will be out­side, con­sid­er pack­ing a portable fan or col­lapsi­ble chair.

Keep Mov­ing
Walk­ing it off” isn’t just for ath­letes. Sit­ting for long peri­ods of time can cause stiff­ness in your body. You can prac­tice small move­ments or stretch­es, such as light, rhyth­mic exer­cis­es, that raise your heart rate and increase blood flow to keep you com­fort­able through­out the game.

  • Walk for five to ten min­utes to help warm up sore leg muscles.
  • Stretch the mus­cles con­nect­ed to major joints, such as your hips and shoulders.
  • Length­en mus­cles by hold­ing each stretch for at least 15 seconds.

From the Coach­es Cor­ner: Long Game Days and Injuries

Pre­pare for Play-Offs
Chances are your child’s team has made it to the play­offs, and long game days are a whole new ball­game. Plan­ning ahead can min­i­mize stress.

  • Pre­pare your ath­lete for long game days by mak­ing sure they are well rest­ed, hydrat­ed and have eat­en a bal­anced meal.
  • Make sure your ath­lete has all of the gear they will need to play the game.

Sup­port Post-Game Recov­ery
If your child has suf­fered an injury, talk with their train­er after the game to deter­mine if a fol­low up appoint­ment with their physi­cian is need­ed or if the injury can be mon­i­tored and treat­ed at home.

PRO-TIPS

  • If you are watch­ing the big game with younger sib­lings in tow, con­sid­er bring­ing items such as side­walk chalk, puz­zles or books to keep them entertained.
  • Pack extra snacks to share with oth­er fam­i­lies and spectators.
  • Vol­un­teer to be a snack par­ent for the team by pro­vid­ing healthy snacks such as oranges or pow­er bars.

Be the MVP and set your team up for suc­cess this sports sea­son. Click here to learn more about ways to keep your fam­i­ly healthy and hap­py this sum­mer, or to sched­ule an appoint­ment with a fam­i­ly med­i­cine physician.

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