Back to school? Help your child stay fit with sports | Sunday Observer
Medi Snips:

Back to school? Help your child stay fit with sports

17 April, 2022

It’s back to school for thousands of children with most schools already opened or re-opening gradually across the nation.

The reopening of schools and in person education being resumed in staggered fashion in most schools islandwide, brought mixed responses from the students, with some welcoming the resumption of their usual classroom lessons after being cooped inside their homes due to the Covid-19 pandemic ; others welcoming the opportunity to meet up with classmates and socialise after their long enforced stay indoors, and still others looking forward to engaging in the many outdoor activities especially in the sports field which is now being given the highest priority by the current Sports Minister. .

Engaging in sports is undoubtedly beneficial to children especially at this time around. This is due to the fact that many children tended to put on weight and become obese, from long hours of watching TV or being hooked to computer games, causing them to become physically lazy and inactive following their long school break.

On the other hand, parents are worried that their child may contract various diseases when interacting with other children on the field at close distance.

To allay their fears the Sunday Observer spoke to Head of Rehabilitation Services, MJF Rehabilitation Foundation, Dr Gopi Kitnasamy, to find out what kind of sports should and should not be played during this time, what injuries parents should expect during contact sports, and how they should be treated and most importantly avoided.

Our first question was one which was uppermost in the minds of most parents “Would the opening of schools and more activities inside and outside the classroom cause a surge in disease transmission leading to community transmission?

In reply he said, “Opening schools generally does not significantly increase community transmission, particularly when guidance outlined by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization are strictly followed. Attending regular classroom lessons are beneficial to children, as schools provide a safe, stimulating and enriching space for children to learn, opportunities for socialization, access to school-based mental and nutritional health services and opportunities for physical activities. ”

Was wearing masks a problem when engaged in outdoor sports?

Asked if wearing masks, which is now mandatory, could be a problem particularly when playing high intensity sports, he admitted, “Wearing masks is very important to protect us and others from infection.

However, in the case of high intensity sports that involves running, it will be difficult to perform well while wearing the masks if it causes difficulty in breathing.

Students with such problems can minimise the risks by washing hands for at least 20 seconds before, after and often; avoid habits like spitting in the ground, shouting and removing the masks during the breaks and socialising.”

Outdoor vs indoor sports

If students had to choose indoor versus outdoor sports, which was better we asked, giving voice to another question for which parents wanted advice.

In reply he said, ”Outdoor sports are safer than indoor sports and less risky, but they must follow the safety guidelines strictly all the time. The coaches should consider reducing the size of the team, intensity and duration of the game and always maintain the physical distance of the players.

Sports that require contact or close proximity between players are risky and it’s better to modify the practices and the activities. They can consider playing in smaller and same groups and not mixing the groups often, reducing intensity and time.

The players and coaches can focus on strategies, strengths and weaknesses, individual skills and planning.”

Health benefits of outdoor sports

Reiterating his advice on the health benefits of outdoor activities, he said, “ Outdoor activities form an important part of a growing child’s life and have long term benefits on his/her health.

Asked to explain in more detail, he said, “Adequate outdoor activity increases health and physical development by improving sensory development, reducing obesity and stimulating blood cells. It helps children to stay fit and active which will benefit them in the long run. It wards off health problems like obesity and heart ailments later in life. Apart from that, participation in sports activities improves physical fitness, coordination, and self-discipline, and gives children valuable opportunities to learn about teamwork. ”

Do’s and Don’ts to follow prior to allowing children to engage in contact sports.

He also offered the following useful advice to parents before allowing their children to take part in contact sports.

“Before allowing your child to participate in a contact sport, consider his or her age, maturity, and physical size. Whatever sports your child participates in, ensure that he or she has a foundation of proper technique and movement.

Injury risks to watch out

The risk of injury in returning to sport after long lockdowns and an extended period of reduced physical activity needs to be taken into consideration. The students should adapt a phased and gradual approach to get back to their sports and always follow the advice of their coaches. This includes a period of warm up at any age. The elevated injury rates in youth sports are likely related to the nature of the games, intensity and duration. Jumping, maximal accelerations and decelerations, rapid changes of direction and expressions of maximal speed as the players try to outmaneuver each other are inherent in team sports.

Preventing injuries

Responding to our query as to how these risks could be avoided or minimised, he said, “Fortunately, most sports injuries in children can be prevented. Some of the more effective ways to prevent these injuries include age-specific coaching, appropriate physical conditioning, and proper use of equipment.

You can also prevent injuries by encouraging children to train for their sport, rather than rely on the sport to whip them into shape. Coaches should assess the physical activities students were able to do during the lockdown as a starting point for the reintroduction of formalized training.

Drawing his attention to a disturbing trend where children who for various reasons choose to delay seeing a physician or ignore their injuries until they worsen and cause complications later on in life. We asked him for his observations.In response he told Medi Snip, “No doubt Sports injuries in children are on the rise as is evident in media reports. The growing concern is that many of these children ignore their injuries, and such inattention can worsen the issue over time. Another new trend we see is that those children are focusing harder on just one sport to become ultra-competitive.

As a result, many of them are pushing themselves beyond acceptable thresholds in their formative years, leading to injuries that are typically seen in professional players. ”

Advice to young players

So what would be your advice to these young players we asked.

His response was, “My advice to them is to remember your body is still growing. So when you are injured, your body is giving you a signal. Don’t ignore it; do the right thing by getting a qualified physician or physiotherapist to examine you and give you the proper treatment, so that you can fully heal and continue to enjoy sports.’