Can you even believe we are already talking about the kids going back to school? August 8th will be here before we know it. 

However, while your mind is probably spinning with school supplies, a new wardrobe, working around practice schedules, etc., there are some *health* issues that need to be discussed before entering into a new school year. 
Back to School = Back to Sports
When students hear school is about to be back in session, the first thing they think of is sports. So, the last place they want to end up being is on the sidelines due to an injury. Fortunately, there are ways to make sure your athlete stays safe and injury-free both on and off the field this season.
First, you want to make sure your athlete undergoes a sports physical before the season begins. During a sports physical, physicians at UAB Medical West Hoover Health Center can make sure athletes are growing at the right pace, and there are not issues that could cause damage to their health if they play.
“During the summer is a great time to come in and undergo a sports physical since most people are wrapping-up last-minute vacations before the season ends,” says J.D. Shugrue, MD, Family Medical Physician at UAB Medical West Hoover Health Center. “We also try to keep a copy of the sports physical on-hand in case a parent ever needs another copy at a moment’s notice.”
Second, you want to also make sure your athlete is warming up before a practice or game and cooling down after. Especially because certain muscles used in the sporting event might not have been used that much during the summer break. 
“Stretching and easing back into things is vital when preventing injuries during sports season,” Dr. Shugrue states. “Jumping full-force back into things can increase your risk of injury, while wearing the proper sporting equipment can help to decrease your chances of being hurt during practice or a game.”
Third, you need to ensure your young athlete is fueling up throughout the day, as well as staying hydrated before and after a game or practice. 
Although water is the beverage of choice, certain sport drinks like Gatorade include electrolytes that can help an athlete replenish water lost during a heavy workout. To help repair muscle damage, plain yogurt, grilled salmon, and cooked broccoli are great sources of protein and potassium, which aide in muscle repair.  
Think Outside of Wellness Checks
While wellness checks and sports physicals are critical in giving a new school year a *healthy* start, it is also important set healthy habits for your entire family for a successful next couple of months. 
For starters, you want to get your family back on a routine. While the summer was filled with late mornings and even later nights, a school day calls for an earlier alarm. Therefore, go ahead and start getting back into a more scheduled routine now instead of waiting until the first day of school. 
“It can be difficult for your body to adjust quickly from one routine to the other,” explains Dr. Shugrue. “As a result, start school bedtime routines now, so that when the first day of school starts, your family is already adjusted to earlier mornings.”
According to the National Sleep Foundation, school-aged children and teens need around 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night. Therefore, set your child up for a successful school day by putting steps into place for a restful night.
In addition, when it comes to homework, establish a room in the house that is strictly for homework and studying. From pens and paper to calculators and classical music, set the *homework* room up to where your children can stay focused in a technology-free zone.
Finally, you want to make sure your children continue to practice good habits day in and day out to stay as healthy as possible throughout the year. 
This includes:
  • Cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing
  • Don’t share foods or drinks, especially with people who are exhibiting signs of sickness
  • Eating healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins
  • Getting an adequate amount of sleep every night
  • Washing hands frequently, such as before and after eating and after using the restroom
“Remember, our doors are always open!” says Dr. Shugrue. “For the most part, we are able to get patients in the same day, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us at the first sign of sickness this school year.”
Is your child’s health ready to go back to school? Visit our website today to schedule an appointment with one of our knowledgeable physicians who can help evaluate and make sure your child is ready to hit the field this season!