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.
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:
- Coconut water
- Decaffeinated tea
- Sports drinks that replenish electrolytes
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.
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.
“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.
- 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.