2020 was never off to a great start! Bush fires put a stop to many of us travelling for our summer camping trips to spend time outdoors with our friends & families. Then in March we started hearing whispers of a Virus going around. Never would we have thought our generation would live through a global pandemic.
If you were lucky your kids got to school and sport as normal in January and February, allowing them to keep moving and have the social and team interaction that are important to help them grow and develop both physically and psychologically.
But….a downward spiral since March has put an impromptu halt to youth sport and recreation. Our kids have had to stop the activities they love that provide an outlet to see their friends, whilst working on team skills, coordination and fitness. Let’s be honest, there’s only so much PE with Joe can take them through!
Navigating our way out of heavy restrictions we need to consider a few things before throwing our kids back into everything.
How have their bodies changed with reduced physical activity?!
Reduced physical activity (PA) & an increase in prolonged sedentary behaviours are linked to changes in physical and mental health outcomes;
- loss of muscle strength within 1-2 weeks
- hormone changes as PA increases cerebral blood flow and circulating levels of norepinephrine and endorphins
- weight gain
- poor academic performance
- loss of strength, power, speed & agility
- psychological problems such as decreased mood, lack in confidence and concentration, and increased anxiety, stress and anger.
- A decline in cognitive development including decision making abilities, skill acquisition and behaviour
How can we load them safely back into their sports?
It’s important to consider what our kids’ expectations are going back to their sports, how we can load them safely back into it, and what will maintain their motivation!
Let’s talk about load management!
Overtraining or going “too hard, too fast” does not allow the body to adjust and recover, which can lead to decreased performance and/or increased risk injury. It’s important to find a balance between the increase in activity and recovery.
Lifestyle factors that can impact load management:
- Psychological: motivation, joy of participation, academic and emotional stress and anxiety. Consider the child’s confidence & self esteem as this may have changed with inactivity and lack of social interactions
- Sleep: adequate sleep allows the bodies tissues to and repair
- Support: coaches, teaches, parents & the child need to communicate effectively
- Physical environment: grounds, shoes, weather, equipment accessibility
- Body changes: hormones, muscle/fat composition, growth change considerations, injury history
What is the difference between sore muscles and actual injury? When should I seek professional help?
Delayed on muscle soreness (DOMs) vs actual Injury:
|Signs & Symptoms||DOMs||Injury|
|History||No trauma||Possible trauma or incident|
|Pain||Dull achy pain coming on 12-24 hours after the activity, lasting up to 48 hrs||More immediate onset|
|Intensity||Low grade||More intense especially with movement|
|Management:||Gentle movement eg, swimming, pilates, walking|
|Protect, Load it optimally, Ice, Compression during day, Elevation|
See practitioner for best advice
|Avoid||Heavy loading of same muscle group, plyometrics, sprinting||Heat, too much loading, heavy massage|
Tools to help manage return to sport:
- Resistance training plays vital roles in developing muscle mass and attaining peak bone density in early adulthood, important for musculoskeletal health in later life. A minimum of twice weekly can maintain strength. Simple body weight training is great for younger kids, with added small weights from ages 7 years up.
- Plyometric training such as speed skaters, tuck jumps, hurdles, jumping lunges, squat jumps & skipping
- Exposure to high speed running– gradually increasing 10% each week either distance or speed, starting small on a cricket pitch and progressing out around the oval with sprints and accelerations
- Appropriate nutrition can contribute to better performance, avoid injuries, facilitate post-exercise recovery, improve lifestyle habits, and maintain a good general health status and adequate weight.
- Protein in the form of lean grass fed meats or eggs are important to help muscles rebuild and recover.
- Healthy fats such as eggs, nuts & seeds, hard cheese, fatty fish and avocados provide longer lasting fuel sources and assist with decreasing inflammation in the body.
- Complex Carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, whole grains and legumes for fuel.