Publisher's Note: Our partners at the University of Kansas Hospital are back with tips on the health of student-athletes. Today, here are some tips to prepare for the big game.
The director of the Youth Sports Medicine Clinic at The University of Kansas Hospital says preparing student athletes properly for game-day events can not only prevent injury but help them perform better.
Dr. Randy Goldstein is director of the Youth Sports Medicine Clinic, located on the main campus of The University of Kansas Hospital and on the Indian Creek Campus at I-435 and Nall.
Dr. Goldstein offers these tips for game days:
- Hydration Starts the Night Before the Game. Proper hydration is more than drinking water during the game. It should start the night before by drinking plenty of water. “Water is the best hydration you can have, followed by the athletic drinks with electrolytes,” Dr. Goldstein says. “In all cases avoid the energy drinks with high caffeine and taurine. They will dehydrate an athlete more quickly.”
- Rest Physically and Mentally Before a Game. A good night of sleep can help your body respond to the stress of the game. “It also helps keep your mind fresh and active and able to respond to game situations,” says Dr. Goldstein.
- Get Nutrition through Food, Not Supplements. “The best way to get energy for a big game is to eat foods high in carbohydrates,” says Dr. Goldstein. “Pasta dinners are very popular on game days, often with protein such as meats, fish and nuts. If the athlete likes to eat something before a game, some fruit about a half hour before game time can help.” According to Dr. Goldstein, supplements, like protein shakes, are not as good as food for growing bones and muscles.
- Do Light Stretching Before Games and Practices, Do Major Stretching Afterwards. “Stretching when your muscles are warmed up will do more to prevent injury and retain flexibility,” says Dr. Goldstein. He recommends light stretching or jogging before a game.
- Use Braces and Supports Only as Needed. “Putting on knee or ankle supports when you don’t need them can actually lead to reduced strength in your joints,” warns Dr. Goldstein.
- Playing Hurt Can Reduce Performance, Careers and Enjoyment. Dr. Goldstein says youth and school coaches are much more aware now of the long term effects of ignoring injuries. “Small injuries for young athletes can turn into long term problems for adults if left unexamined or untreated. It is best to put safety first for the long term future of youth sports,” he says.
- Take Concussions Seriously. In all levels of sport, with both genders, the concerns about concussions are at an all-time high. “Certainly, proper techniques and coaching can prevent a first concussion, but the key to sports medicine is never having a second concussion while still recovering from the first one,” according to Dr. Goldstein. He says modern health standards call for removing an athlete from activity once a concussion occurs and getting the athlete evaluated by a medical professional before returning. Dr. Goldstein says a concussion can be caused by either an impact to the head or a whiplash without impact. He says the conditions to watch for are headache or confusion, but doesn't have to include a loss of consciousness.
Dr. Goldstein notes that young athletes, even in high school or college are still growing and injuries can harm critical growth plates. He also recommends that all athletes, even those concentrating on a single sport, should cross train in an activity that impacts the body differently such as a runner spending at least one day of the week swimming or a swimmer spending at least one of the week running.
The Youth Sports Medicine Clinic is part of the Sports Medicine program at The University of Kansas Hospital.
In addition to taking care of athletes of all ages, the program is the Official Healthcare Provider of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Kansas City Royals, Kansas Speedway and Sprint Center as well as for the Mill Valley High School and DeSoto High School.
The hospital will open a sports medicine clinic in 2013 next to Arrowhead Stadium at The University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex.