Disclosure: I have received promotional consideration from MinuteClinic and Johnson & Johnson Inc. for this post. All opinions are my own.
Whether we like it or not, summer is on its way out and fall is around the corner. For many of us, this means the kids are heading back to school. But they’re not just returning to the classroom. A lot of children, including my own, are returning to the sports field, court or arena. As kids start school and fall sports, parents are looking for ways to keep their children healthy and safe from injury. To help your children get off to a healthy start, MinuteClinic offers a number of tips to prepare your children so they begin the new school year right.
Back to School Health
It’s no secret that children pick up a lot of germs at school, but there are some steps you can take to help prevent those from developing into serious ailments. First and foremost, encourage your children to wash their hands regularly throughout the day: after using the restroom, before and after eating, after recess or gym, and after sneezing or coming in contact with someone who has sneezed. If they can’t wash their hands, tell them to use waterless hand sanitizer. I usually keep a small bottle in my kids’ backpacks so they have some available.
Also, make sure your kids’ vaccinations are up to date. Most schools require certain vaccinations like whooping cough (pertussis) and meningitis prior to attending school. Click here to find out the requirements for meningitis shots in your state, and check here for requirements for pertussis shots.
Fall Sports Tips
If your kids are like mine, they stay pretty active during the summer, but returning to fall sports requires a bit more preparation than just being active. My kids play soccer and softball, two sports that draw upon their bodies in much different ways than biking, climbing on their play set or jumping on the trampoline. Therefore, we have to implement a new routine to make sure their bodies are prepared for what’s to come.
First, start with a sports physical to ensure your child is healthy. MinuteClinic practitioners can review health history and immunizations, perform a thorough physical exam, and complete and stamp any required paperwork. In addition, MinuteClinic recommends the following tips to get children ready for fall sports:
1. When starting a new sport, consider a preseason conditioning program or camp to gradually build strength and endurance.
2. Don’t let your kids jump in too fast. Increase intensity, distance or duration of play by about 10 percent per week. This allows the body to rest, rebuild, recover and avoid injury.
3. Help your kids boost their stamina by including the “fit 5” in their diet: quinoa, kale, chia seed, peanut butter and pickle juice.
4. Avoid cramping before game time and serve main meals two to three hours prior. If they really need something before a game, lighter snacks like granola bars can be digested in 30 minutes.
5. Make sure your child takes time to warm up and stretch before game time. A few minutes of light activity (jumping jacks, jogging, etc.) followed by stretching all of the major muscle groups (shoulders, arms, chest, abdomen, back, butt, thighs and calves) is sufficient. Each stretch should be held for between 20 and 30 seconds to successfully lengthen the muscle.
6. Hydration is crucial to a healthy sports outing, so have your child drink fluids 30 minutes before game time and every 15 to 20 minutes during the game.
Finally, take a moment to stock up your medicine cabinet and first aid kit to ensure you have treatment on hand for minor ailments. These include Band-Aids, first aid cream, ice packs, children’s ibuprofen, bug repellent and sunscreen.
Starting a new school year or embarking on a new fall sports season inspires a lot of excitement and anticipation for both kids and their parents. By taking a few simple steps, parents can do their best to ensure their children stay healthy in the classroom and on the field.