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Back-to-school with healthier bodies: Backpack Safety

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

As kids get ready to head back to school this year, many will load up backpacks, join school sports teams and engage in new activities after months of summer vacation, making them more prone to injury. The physical therapists with Athletico offer the following tips to help keep kids safe and healthy this school season.

Concussions
Starting the school year may mean joining the starting line. Every coach, parent and athlete should know the facts about head injuries and what to do including:

  • Seeing a medical professional for any head injury. There is no such thing as a minor incident. Athletico's athletic trainers are specialists when it comes to concussions, trained on the latest concussion evaluation tests and return-to-play guidelines.

  • Being aware of symptoms, which are not always apparent. They can be as subtle as a headache or feeling sluggish, not just the telltale signs of dizziness or loss of consciousness.

  • Continuing to monitor. Symptoms may not surface until 48 to 72 hours after an injury. Any athlete who sustains a head injury should not return to play until cleared by a licensed healthcare provider.

Stretching
Stretching is critical for safe training in sports, but it also helps maintain general flexibility for daily activities. Students should warm up before activity and stretch after the big game or study session. Stretch basics include:

  • Stretching muscles on both sides of the body to keep balanced.

  • Pushing stretches but not to the point of pain, which can lead to injury. Only a slight tension should be felt.

  • Keeping slow and steady movements for the safest stretches. Hold the stretch for at least 15 seconds.
  • Hydration
    Staying hydrated is important for all students as they head back to school in late summer months, but is especially vital for athletes. Dehydration can cause fatigue, dizziness, nausea, weakness, muscle cramps and - in severe cases - death. To help student athletes stay hydrated Athletico experts advise:
    • Hydrating not just during the workout, but before, during and after any strenuous exercise:

    • 16-20 ounces of water two hours before moderately intense exercise in the heat

    • 8-12 ounces 10-15 minutes before going out in the heat

    • 3-8 ounces of drinks with sodium and electrolytes every 15-20 minutes when exercising longer than 60 minutes, and

    • 16-20 ounces of water after exercise for every pound lost.

    • Monitoring urine hydration levels. Very pale to light yellow urine is ideal. Anything darker would indicate dehydration.

    • Carrying a water bottle throughout the day and consuming water-packed foods, such as grapes, tomatoes or watermelons, help keep student athletes hydrated.

    Ergonomics
    Whether sitting in the classroom or studying at home, students should practice the following for good spine health.
    • Sit in a chair-- not a bed or couch-- when studying or working at a computer, keeping knees at a 90 degree angle with feet flat on the floor.

    • Avoid sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time. If there is no opportunity to stand up during class, students should occasionally straighten legs, roll shoulders and lift their chins to the ceiling holding for 15-30 seconds
    • Maintain healthy posture when working at a laptop or tablet. Situate the device so that the wrists remain in a neutral pose and position the screen in a way that does not cause the head to constantly bend forward. The eyes will ideally contact the top of the monitor when the chin is parallel to the floor.

    For any aches or pains check out a nearby Athletico facility for a complimentary screening where a licensed physical therapist or athletic trainer can help anyone living with pain decide the appropriate next steps. To find the nearest location or more information, visit www.Athletico.com.


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