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Keeping Your Active Teen Healthy Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Chances are, if you’ve got teenagers in the house, you’ve got at least one teenage athlete under your wing. Football, dance, soccer, cheerleading, lacrosse – whatever sport your teen has chosen to participate in, they’re probably going to go at it hammer and tongs, and it’s going to be up to you to help keep them healthy while they’re doing it. Read on for some things you can do to minimize the chance of injury to your active teenager.

Injuries to young athletes usually fall into one of two categories: acute or repetitive. Acute injuries include things like sprained ankles and ACL tears. Repetitive injuries result from overuse; tennis elbow is just one example. For acute injuries, immediate medical attention is imperative, because prompt, correct care is necessary to prevent permanent damage to the injured body part.

Repetitive injuries are a little trickier. First of all, you might find that your teen is quiet about nagging aches or pains; they may be under the impression that they just need to “play through it”. Pain, however, is the body’s signal that something is wrong, so watch your teen for signs that all is not well. Favoring one side of the body, a difference in movements, or hesitation before movement can all be signals that your child is in pain. Overuse injuries need to be seen by a sports medicine specialist, who can help your young athlete rehabilitate the injury site and get back on the field.

To help keep your teen from succumbing to an injury in the first place, encourage your child to cross train. An athlete that specializes too much can end up creating imbalances in the musculoskeletal system, and set your kid up for injury; cross training can help prevent this by developing a balanced body and strong core.

The final thing you should take a good look at is nutrition. We know that your teenager wants to live on burgers, pizza, and fries, but they need a balanced diet to promote proper growth and recovery. Lean proteins, fresh vegetables and fruit, and regular sources of calcium are absolutely vital to your young athlete. If you’re unsure what makes up a balanced diet for an active teen, consult your doctor or a registered dietician.

Your teenager gets so many things out of an active lifestyle. Make sure that an injury isn’t one of them.

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