Sports start really young!
There are yoga classes for mom’s and babies (fun for both!), toddlers and beyond. Children begin soccer, baseball, swim team, skiing, martial arts, tennis, and pre-ballet, for example, as young as 4 or 5 years old. Sports such as basketball, football, track, lacrosse, hockey, rock climbing, archery and fencing typically start around age 8, though the natural athlete may start sooner. Tiger Woods is said to have been fascinated with golf at 6 months old!
Benefits of sports and regular exercise
One of the beauties and life-benefits of children and teens being in a regular weight bearing exercise routine -- walking, running, jumping, weight-lifting -- is that it builds bone density. Other benefits of sports and exercise can include discipline, focus, teamwork, camaraderie, cardio health, stress reduction, learning independence traveling with a team, developing relationships outside of mom and dad and class friends. Or, if it’s a family activity such as kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, or running, it may bring the whole family into fresh air and nature, nurturing lifelong healthy habits and creating precious memories.
But there is also the risk of injury.
That’s where chiropractic comes in! Ideally it comes in before the injury. Regular chiropractic adjustments assure good alignment of our joints, reducing the risk of injury and promoting quick healing.
Interestingly, when a teen is getting adjusted, we learn more about their body. Maybe they have flat feet. Who knew? And that will affect their hip alignment. If there is a finding in the exam, we can correct early to prevent injury in the future.
How can chiropractic help?
- Recently a 16-year old lacrosse player came in with hip pain. I found a lot of misalignment of her pelvis and ankle. Though she felt pain in her hip, the pain site wasn’t the problem. She had iced and stretched… but it wasn’t working, because there were companion issues we needed to find and treat. An ankle that’s misaligned can result in injury of the hip joint, low back, and even the neck.
- The ankle misalignment may have come from a fall when she was much younger, that is now presenting in her teenage years. Did you know that by the time children are age 2 it’s estimated they’ve fallen about 1500 times? Fortunately, our bones aren’t fully formed until age 20 to 25. Before that, they’re cartilaginous, not fully ossified into bone, which helps prevent some breaks among children and teens.
- If your neck is not properly aligned, your range of motion is restricted and you cannot rotate your head and look over your shoulder as far. Teenagers need good range of motion for sports, and for driving. (I’m fond of saying that chiropractors make better drivers!) Ice skaters or ballet dancers have to turn their heads well in advance of rotations to sustain momentum.
- Regular chiropractic adjustments remove interference to the nervous system, optimizing communication between the brain and body and reducing reaction time. In short, chiropractic helps athletes of all ages be faster on the field. NFL teams often have chiropractors on staff, both for natural performance enhancement and injury recovery. Even race horses get adjusted!
One of my chiropractic professors used to describe the positive effects of adjustments to the brain by saying, “You got your power turned on now!”
A final bit of advice I always share with my athlete/patients, young and old: stretch AND strengthen. You can’t just do one.
Happy spring sports season!