What to Do After the Game: Post-Activity Health Tips for Children
Involving children in sports is a great way to get them active so that they can develop physically and socially. But after the final whistle blows there are some important steps to take to ensure your child stays healthy.
No matter the sport or season, your young athlete will need fluids-plain and simple. During physical activity, your child will sweat a lot, reducing their hydration and nutrient level. Chocolate milk and water are two excellent options to hydrate after a practice or game. Chocolate milk will aid in muscle fiber restoration with protein and water is essential to rehydrate the body. The goal is to replenish lost nutrients and liquids your child’s body lost while playing.
This goes hand-in-hand with hydration. Your child will need to eat a well-balanced snack. Once it’s time to eat, foods with a moderate- to high-glycemic index like pretzels or fruits like pineapple will help restore muscle carbohydrates (also known as “glycogen").
Try a salad with whole grain pasta and some proteins to satisfy your all-star’s stomach the nutritious way.
This is an often forgotten part of exercise. Stretching after playing a sport can prevent injuries and reduce any residual soreness that might occur the day following rigorous activities.
If your child’s coach or teammates do not lead stretches, make sure they get at least 5-10 minutes of stationary stretching in. Stretch thighs, calves, shoulders, back and arms for 10-30 seconds each. This should not be painful in any way. That said, if your child is complaining of pain while stretching, they should stop and relax the muscle. Always seek further medical help if the pain continues or worsens, as it could be a sign of injury.
For a good stretching program, check out Week 1 of the Change the Play Challenge from Riley at IU Health.