To Your Health
May, 2009 (Vol. 03, Issue 05)
Coordination, the ability to move the arms, legs and other parts of the body smoothly and in unison, is another important element of proper exercise training. Without proper coordination and balance, children will perform more poorly in sports and increase their risk of injury due to an unnecessary slip, trip or fall.
The Right Way
: Agility training involves moving forward, sideways, diagonal, rotational and backward. Examples include: agility ladders, step hurdles (mini), slide boards, agility rings, running stairs, and cross step-over drills. Coordination improves as a result of learning and mastering new movements. Young athletes should start off early with coordination-based exercises that challenge their abilities (within reason). Some youngsters have good balance while others display good rhythm. The key to successful training is to uncover what elements of coordination are required and develop drills/exercises that best target their weaknesses.
Make It Safe and Fun
Like adults, children and teens often experience some discomfort with athletic activity. Their level of physical activity may increase with a sudden, intense interest in sports and fitness, so some aches and pains can be expected. Regardless, their complaints always deserve prompt attention. Some injuries, if left untreated, can cause permanent damage and interfere with proper physical growth.
Never ignore a symptom of pain that lasts more than 48 hours. Whether an injury is acute or chronic, a child who develops a symptom that persists or that affects their athletic performance should be examined by a doctor. They should never be allowed or expected to "work through the pain." (This is good advice for adults, too.) Specific signs that warrant a closer look include the inability to play or exercise following an acute or sudden injury; decreased ability to exercise because of pain (limiting performance); and severe pain from acute injuries which prevent the use of an arm or leg, or otherwise restrict normal motion
Youth fitness should always be fun. The "win at all costs" attitude of many parents, trainers, coaches, professional athletes and peers can lead to injuries and burnout. A young athlete striving to meet the unrealistic expectations of others may ignore the warning signs of injury and continue to exercise with pain. In short, injuries can be prevented by cultivating an atmosphere of healthy competition that emphasizes self-reliance, confidence, cooperation and a positive self-image, rather than just winning.
Perry Nickelston, DC, is clinical director of the Pain Laser Center in Ramsey, N.J., where he focuses on performance enhancement, corrective exercise and metabolic fitness nutrition To learn more about Dr. Nickelston, visit www.painlasercenter.com/Our_Practice.html.