Playing football presents inherent risks due to the nature of the game. But how your child prepares can be helpful in providing the best opportunity for performance and recovery if injuries do occur.
Marc Galloway, MD, head physician and medical director for the Cincinnati Bengals, is also a part of the Mercy Health – Cincinnati Orthopedics and Sports Medicine team. He’s here to share his tips on how to prepare your child for a healthy football season.
First, stay hydrated.
Football players should make sure they are adequately hydrated during training and games. Especially during the summer months, dehydration can cause cramps and muscle strains.
To stay hydrated, players should begin drinking 15 to 20 ounces of water two to three hours prior to physical activity. And while exercising, they should drink seven to 10 ounces every 20 to 30 minutes.
Second, increase your strength.
Strength training helps the players be physically strong enough to withstand the impacts of the collisions that take place on the field.
Also, be sure to stretch adequately.
Stretching is often an undervalued tool in football conditioning. Stretching is important because it helps increase flexibility and prepare your body to avoid injury. In addition, it will increase your child’s agility.
Stretching exercises should focus on quadriceps, hamstrings and lower calf, groin, lower back, calf muscle, achilles tendon and hip flexor.
Be sure to practice sound nutrition.
Nutrition plans vary based on your child’s weight, height, body fat percentage and overall health needs. However, choosing high-quality foods and being consistent with a quality nutritional plan year-round will help football players perform at their highest potential.
This involves a diet rich in whole grains, lean proteins, fruit, vegetables, beans and dairy. Players should try and avoid refined carbohydrates including white bread, cakes, candy, cookies, high-sugar cereals, sodas and juices.
And finally, utilize proper fitting equipment.
Make sure that your child’s football equipment—including shoulder pads, helmet and shoes—properly fit. To do so, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for fitting equipment. Additionally, the equipment should be checked regularly for damaged parts, how it fits as well as for wear and tear.
Mercy Health – Orthopedics and Sports Medicine is conveniently located throughout Cincinnati and offers same-day and next-day appointments, as well as extended hours at the Anderson and Fairfield locations. Call 513-347-9999 or schedule an appointment online today.