The dreaded day for teens and celebratory occasion for parents is among us. School is back in session as summer comes to an end in Greater Vancouver BC. While students have already mapped out their academic (maybe), athletic (likely), and social (most likely) calendars for the year ahead, one thing is often missed – an accounting for physical therapy. Sure, PE class and involvement in school teams will take care of a significant portion of their fitness, but when it comes to improving functional physical performance and staying injury free there is a gap. It also spans beyond what takes place on the court, track, or field, as students today are confronted with more unique obstacles to physical wellness than ever before. Today, we take a succinct look at what you as a parent (because they aren’t the ones reading this) need to do to help them prepare for the next nine to ten months.
4 Things High School Students Need to Be Mindful of When it Comes to Injury Prevention
1. Sport Specific Injury Free Protocol
The greatest risk to your child’s physical health (aside from colds and flus) throughout the school year are injuries sustained from school sports. Now by no means should you discourage participation, as it is imperative to not just physical development, but social and cognitive too. Instead, apply a custom injury prevention plan that applies to the specific sport that your student participates in.
For one, you and your teen should understand the injuries commonly associated with each respective sport. For example, if your student intends on playing football this season, you’ll want to watch out for the knees, as injuries to the anterior or posterior cruciate ligament(ACL/PCL) and to the menisci are most common. If your student is participating in the school baseball team, you’ll not only need to monitor knee health, but improve conditioning to account for the threat of rotator cuff tears and injury to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). The same level of focus should be applied to high school basketball, which boasts one of the most diverse sets of sports injury risk, including impediment to the ankle/foot, hip/thigh/leg, knee, and forearm/wrist/hand being quite common.
In developing an understanding injury threats by sport, your student can perform a regime of proper warmups and cool downs to account for the muscles, ligaments, joints, and tendons that will be put through the wringer this school year. In addition, make sure that the school provides them with the appropriate protective gear (padding, guards, helmets etc.). If the provided gear is ill-fitting and there are no other options available through the program, you may consider investing in their own to keep your teen as safe as possible when out there on the court or field.
View more on how to prevent injuries in sports and be sure to apply these tips to your teen’s high school athletic career.
2. Classroom Tech and the Rise of Early Hand and Wrist Pain
High school isn’t what it used to be. The days of pen to paper are fast becoming a thing of the past as schools have adopted the use of modern technology. Students are logging on when they used to open books, and now tap and swipe instead of scribble and scribe. While all of this may create more engaging and relevant (to students) learning experiences, it has also created a new threat to their physical wellness, especially as it pertains to their hands and wrists.
For instance, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by excessive pressure on the median nerve. When an individual repeatedly bends and extends their wrist, the risk of carpal tunnel increases. Given that these actions are evident when students spend a significant portion of the school day typing on a computer keyboard or mobile device, they too are at risk. On its own, it may be of little consequence, but when you factor in the fact that during their free time, students are texting and playing video games on the smartphones and tablets, you could be looking at hours of repetitive pressure on the median nerve. While debate is out on how common conditions such as early onset of carpel tunnel really are amongst the high school population, there is no doubt that students today are putting way too much strain on their hands and wrists via new technology. There may not be anything you can do about it during school hours, but you can talk to your teen and limit the time they spend on their laptops, tablets, and smartphones when back at home.
Lastly, be sure to have your have your high school student follow these five tips to stopping hand and wrist pain when using tech at school and when doing homework. For good measure, take note of these tips to preventing text neck syndrome too.
3. How Physiotherapy, Not Painkillers, Should be the Answer to Pain Management
Another more alarming concern for parents of high school students, is the abuse of painkillers. In our article about the benefits of physiotherapy for sports teams we referenced the now famous Sports Illustrated article about how on how painkillers are turning young athletes into heroin addicts. The article (and published studies to follow) rightfully struck fear in parents across the continent. While painkillers, be they prescription or OTC, may or may not have their place in managing pain, they should be a last resort for your high school student. Simply put, teenagers are more susceptible to addiction. Instead, look to physiotherapy as a solution their injury rehab, recovery, and pain management.
4. How Physiotherapy Can Enhance Performance the Right Way
Students with their eye on post secondary athletics as a means to earn a scholarship know the importance of improving their performance and gaining a competitive advantage during their high school years. Of course, as a parent, you want to make sure they go about this the right way, in a manner that will protect their overall health and wellness.
When working with a physiotherapy clinic with a team deep in varying disciplines your student will have access to a wealth of knowledge and skills that can be applied to their sports and all around physical health. Not only will they be more likely to see improved performance in their high school sports of choice, physiotherapy can also help them better manage the anxiety and stress that comes from high school life while developing within them a better understanding of how their body and mind works in one cohesive unit. View more on how teenagers can directly benefit from physiotherapy.
If your household is located in the Greater Vancouver area, contact Absolute PhysioCare in Burnaby to schedule a consultation together with the high school student/s in your family.