I came across this great article a couple days ago and I really wanted to share. Both of my daughters take part in competitive sports and YES, I definitely consider both dance and figure skating sports! The amount of strength, coordination, balance, agility and cardio-vascular endurance plus the conditioning of the anaerobic systems of both of these activities is incredible. Both of my girls train upwards of 12 hours per week at their sports.
The past couple years, my older daughter, who is a figure skater began having trouble with her knees, which unfortunately for her is very genetic through her Dad’s side. Right away I had her at physio and she was taught to foam roll, stretch and tape. It lasted a while but without prompting, the routine was quickly lost.
This summer when her training started up again and I saw issues surface again but worse, I decided it was time for some good talks and some further steps, especially since it was declared in typical teenage melodramatic style that, “I WOULD RATHER DIE THAN NOT SKATE!”.
On our first road trip a few weeks ago, I finally had her “trapped” with me in the car and fortunately/unfortunately having a Mom as a personal trainer she got an earful and I think she actually heard me. I explained how training in one area multiple times per week, year after year takes its toll on the body. Also, with skating and the amount of jarring with those crazy, powerful jumps and fall after fall after fall can mis-align the body and create issues. We also talked about how skating trains the quad muscles, which pull on the knees and about tight IT bands which all create those knee issues. I told her how her strength in her hamstrings and core need to be included, how she needed to take care of her body with her stretching and foam rolling. I explained to her that if she would, “rather die than stop skating”, then she would have to take her training to a new level and do some very hard work. Of course, I added in the nice motherly threat that if I saw her knees digress any further, she would be off the ice, as someday when she was my age, she may actually want to do other activities that involve her knees!
So with that, she has been working with a personal trainer of her own. No, not her Mom, as I learned very early on, kids learn much better from outside influences than their parents. A quick failed attempt of us trying to teach them to ski at age three was all that was needed! Her trainer is amazing – huge shout out to Sarah at Core Fitness. Just last week, my daughter was sitting doing her homework and she said, “Mom, I am starting to notice I’m getting stronger, especially with my jumps.” I almost started crying! FINALLY – I did something right!! You parents of teenagers can empathize with that one!
I challenge parents to keep an eye on your kids’ bodies and immune systems. Especially the sports that are run by volunteers. These coaches do their best but might not have the right knowledge to be handling the accessory work that goes along. I’ve heard some nightmare stories of coaches taking their teams out for long runs and making them do a full-on intense workout only hours before a big game. Someone with proper fitness knowledge knows that only light warm-up and training should be done prior to an event that will demand huge amounts of energy stores from the body. The focus should be on fueling those bodies, topping up glycogen stores, hydration and warming up the bodies. I know a few teams in town are super lucky to have PT Mom’s who do their off-ice training and conditioning, somehow I bet those teams are the ones killing it on the ice!
Another huge factor to consider is your kids’ nutrition. As busy parents running multiple children from activity to activity a lot are quick to grab something that will simply fill their bellies. But again, oh my goodness, these are little athletes and they need proper nutrition. Once, I walked into the skating change room and there the senior girls sat eating a box of sugar cubes! I almost died! They all quickly got a lecture on nutrition and then a longer one when I had them in lock-down at their off-ice session.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Eat to Perform”? Its a big one out there in the fitness world and one that I often use with my own clients. We quickly learn that if we are up for an intense workout, we won’t make it through the session with full-strength and stamina without proper fuel. I’ve had many clients light-headed and unable to finish a workout because they didn’t have the nutrition to back them. So how are you fueling and hydrating your kids before their activities? I know first hand, that if you have two or more kids in activities such as dance, figures skating, hockey or gymnastics, you are already close to a second mortgage! Time to start thinking of your kids as an investment! You must keep those little wallet-draining, money-suckers in tip-top shape. Since you’re already spending THOUSANDS on them – make sure you make the extra investment in their nutrition and health. Keep an eye on them. Are they sick a lot, sore a lot, tired a lot, having trouble concentrating? Think about your own body – do they need a massage? Do they need a chiropractic adjustment? Those little bodies get a lot of trauma. Sorry to bust those bubbles – that tropical vacation is going to need a backseat for another…. well, probably 15-20 years! Good luck parents! Stick together and all that hard work and investment will pay off!