The Healthy Athlete

Athletes need healthy muscles, joints, bones and hearts for effective, coordinated and skilled movement to meet the demands of the games they play. Sports are their perfect training ground.

boys balance on strike

Healthy Muscles are developed through training that gradually increases the demand on the muscles without sacrificing form or balance in performance. Weakness shows up as favoring one side or succumbing to fatigue.

Healthy Joints can move easily through their full range of motion and are supported by taut muscles, balanced right to left, and front to back. Weakness is evident as wobble or perceived by the athlete as “give,” or unreliable support.

Healthy Bones are grown with proper diet and regular weight-bearing exercise. Of special concern in young athletes are the structurally fragile “growth plate” regions where bones are actively growing in length.

Healthy Hearts are the product of regular physical activity which uses large muscle groups for gradually extended periods of time. An efficient heart pumps blood, circulates nutrients to and removes waste products from the hard-working muscles. Aerobic exercise trains the heart and demand can easily be measured by perceived exertion.

Healthy Movement is facilitated by dedicated rehearsal and practice. Activities should be attempted using right and left sides in order to balance the demands on the body and reduce the risk of overtraining or overuse injuries. Starting with basic steps and then gradually increasing complexity allows the athlete to gain coordination and confidence while developing skills.

Healthy Nutrition and Hydration are essential support for the body’s healthy growth and development. A balanced diet supplies fuel and fluids needed for activity and the building blocks for growing bones, muscles and body tissues. The vitamins and minerals needed are generally sufficient if the diet has a good variety of healthy and nutritious foods. (For more on nutrition see the Healthy Nutrition Page)

Healthy Rest and Recovery, sufficient sleep (8-9 hours) and time off from training, is sometimes overlooked in today’s athlete’s busy schedule but is essential to allow the body to recover after the stresses of training and play. What training breaks down, rest and recovery rebuilds, only stronger. Insufficient rest is a prime culprit in athletic injury.

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