This past year has presented many challenges for parents, including a constant worry that your child might contract the COVID-19 virus. If you are anything like me, your child’s health is always on your mind, and your concerns are completely heightened during the pandemic. Thankfully, in times like these, we can turn to medical professionals for information and ways to keep our children safe.
Connecticut Children’s is the only health system in the state that’s 100% dedicated to kids, with lots of locations throughout the region, including Danbury, Shelton, and Fairfield – plus Video Visits in more than 30 specialties. They have played a pivotal role in supporting many parents throughout the pandemic and have been a great resource for many throughout these challenging times, specifically their various COVID-19 resources.
As the weather continues to warm up, my children are more and more excited to get back out on the playing field. However, organized sports are not the same as they once were. As we adjust to the new procedures and safety measures, Connecticut Children’s guidelines to Return To Play During COVID-19 have been a great resource for my family, including the following recommendations.
And while we haven’t had any sprains, strains, or broken bones in our household this spring, it’s nice knowing that if I am worried about my kids and injuries, Connecticut Children’s offers walk-in and same-day appointments in Danbury and Shelton.
“After months of limited physical activity, a child’s risk to an injury can be greater when returning to the playing field,” says Connecticut Children’s pediatric orthopedic surgeon Mark A. Rieger, MD. He recommends that “youth athletes get back into sports gradually – in general, about six weeks.” Some additional recommendations include:
- Your body is a machine, and you need to ease back into activity gradually, increasing activity by 10% or so each week.
- For athletes in their teens or twenties, this can mean running for five more minutes or adding increased repetitions of an exercise each day.
Listen to Your Body
As I’ve previously said, your body is a machine, and it is important to listen to it and react to what it is telling you! As a parent of younger children, it is my responsibility to watch them and see if their movement or demeanor is off. This will tell me that their body needs a rest.
“Pain is a message from your body that you shouldn’t be doing something, or you should adjust what you are doing,” says Dr. Rieger. “It shouldn’t be masked with anti-inflammatories.” If your child is injured, you should seek professional medical help and rest appropriately to avoid re-injury. You are your child’s biggest advocate, so when something in their body seems off, you need to help them heal.
Back to the Basics
The other day, I was talking to my sister about her twin sons returning to lacrosse. She expressed how nervous she was because they have been inactive for over a year and weren’t sure what to expect. I told her that I learned (from Connecticut Children’s Return to Play During COVID-19) that coaches should treat the beginning of the season as a preseason. Jumping back in full steam will not benefit her kids. They need to ease back into the sports instead of picking right back up when the pandemic began in March of 2020. Dr. Rieger suggests that “young athletes’ bodies take the necessary time to adjust and train to get back into shape.” There is no rush, and there is no competition; slow and steady WILL win the race!There are many things you can do as a parent to support your young athlete. Whether they are in elementary school or college (or anywhere in between), it is important to take it slow and return to sports responsibly. Give their bodies time to adjust both physically and mentally. I am teaching my children to listen to their bodies and respond to any uncomfortable or painful feeling.
Connecticut Children’s is a fantastic resource. I encourage you to utilize their Return to Play Kit at connecticutchildrens.org/returntoplay if you are looking for advice about your children’s sports – and schedule an appointment or Video Visit if you need to talk to a pediatric expert!