1, 2, 30 ...GO
Why is this program important?
Lockdown is over, children are going back to school but, health professionals are warning that Aussie children are not out of the woods yet. Each year in Australia, 68,000 children are hospitalised annually as a result of a preventable injury. Covid-19 has the potential to make this figure higher.
Christine Erskine, Executive Officer of Kidsafe NSW says “I hear people saying “Don’t worry – kids bounce” when we have a discussion about strategies for reintroducing children to sport post lockdown. The fact of the matter is, that children shouldn’t have to bounce and they don’t always. They can get hurt.”
She goes onto say that “lockdown isn’t something that children usually do. They are constantly active and moving be it at school, in the backyard or at sport. Lockdown in NSW saw most children confined to their house for home schooling for 15 weeks. Yes families went on walks and picnics but, it was a much more sedentary lifestyle compared to what they would have experienced pre-lockdown. As a result, they have deconditioned; their fitness, flexibility and stamina has dropped.”
According to Andrew Fyffe, Exercise Physiologist from The Children’s Hospital Institute of Sports Medicine “we saw an increase in soft tissue injuries and even broken bones in NSW post the 2020 lockdown. It was shorter than what we just experienced so we are anticipating that there will be a spike in similar injuries in the coming weeks.”
Kidsafe NSW is urging parents, carers and coaches to be aware that children need to be encouraged to recondition before they get back into competitive sport and physical activity. To help with this, Kidsafe NSW is working with a number of partners to provide free and easy to access resources that will provide 4-6 week programs designed specifically to improve children’s flexibility, fitness and strength so that they can enjoy sport and physical activity pain free and with confidence.
Patron of Kidsafe NSW, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC Governor of New South Wales says “The benefits of play, sport and spending time with peers are so important to children’s mental and physical development. The 1,2,3…GO campaign provides advice from health and sports experts to ensure that children bounce back quickly from lockdown, with a safe, strategic and balanced approach to reintroducing children to all forms of physical activity.”
Top 10 reconditioning tips for kids:
Kidsafe NSW in conjunction with The Children’s Hospital Institute of Sports Medicine (CHISM) has put together some recommendations for reducing injury-risk following a lengthy period of decreased activity:
- Recondition your body
Remember that your exercise levels have likely been reduced during lockdown so kids may find that they become tired more easily than you did before. Remind kids to be kind to themselves and to not dwell on loss in fitness or strength, it will come back! Gradually progress their activity levels in order to improve fitness, build their muscular endurance and reduce their risk of overuse injuries such as stress reactions and soft tissue injuries.
- Warm up
An adequate warm-up allows kids’ muscles to increase in temperature and promotes blood flow through their body. This is likely to have an effect on both improving performance and reducing their risk of injury. A warm-up should include some dynamic stretching of muscles (stretches that involve back and forth movement like swinging your arms and legs), some light aerobic activity (movements that raise your heart rate like jogging, skipping and star jumps), and some basic skill movements (such as kicking and catching a ball or shooting some hoops).
- Return to training a couple of weeks prior to returning to competition
Following a prolonged absence from a particular skill or activity (such as during lockdown) kids skills and psychological attributes such as game awareness and mental stamina can be impacted. It is therefore important to try to replicate some game-like scenarios in a more controlled manner that help them adapt to some of the demands of their particular sport or activity.
- Keep well-hydrated
It is extremely important, particularly as we head into summer, that the fluid being lost during physical activity is being replaced. Plain water is an effective drink for fluid replacement and it is best for kids to start drinking prior to exercise to reduce their chances of becoming dehydrated. Following the exercise, encourage your kids to consume more water than you think they may have lost and spread it out over the next few hours.
- Maintain a well-balanced and nutritious diet
Food provides the energy we need to be active, and both the amount and the types of foods kids eat can influence their ability to optimise their energy levels and recovery. Make sure your kids avoid skipping meals. Encourage them to eat carbohydrate-rich foods prior to exercise (to provide energy to muscles) as well as following exercise (to replenish energy). This can help maximise performance. Protein intake can also facilitate muscle synthesis to help them recover from an intense bout of exercise.
- Consider motivation and physical activity goals
Lockdown may influence your kids’ level of motivation. Try to continually remind them that it is for fun. Playing for fun can see them embrace getting back into physical activity quicker.
- Exercise with another person or in a group
Due to lockdown, many kids have felt a sense of social isolation, and they may find that exercising with their friends helps them reconnect and gain further enjoyment out of their training. Exercising with others can also help them feel motivated while, in turn, motivating others.
- Give yourself time to recover
A key thing to remember is that adequate time between training sessions will help kids recover. Things like fatigue, delayed onset muscle soreness, and inflammation may not only hinder their performance, but also put them at risk of injury. The amount of time needed to recover will vary from individual to individual, and will also depend on the type, duration and intensity of the activity. Other factors like quality of sleep and stress levels may also impact upon the length of your recovery.
- Wear appropriate attire
Kids can grow very quickly and they make have grown out of the sports equipment that they were using before we went into lockdown so, make sure their equipment is sport appropriate and fits well. For outdoor activities, it is always important to stay sun safe and you may need to consider things like how your kids clothes protect their skin as well as wearing a hat, sun cream and sunglasses. Footwear that is well-fitting, comfortable, and provides their feet with good support can make a significant difference in improving performance and reducing soreness during and following the activity. These choices will also depend heavily on the type of activity you are involved in, so it may be worthwhile speaking to a trainer who specialises in that particular activity.
- Talk to your healthcare provider
If at any stage you are worried about your kid’s physical or mental wellbeing, check with your healthcare provider and see if they have any suggestions.
As we open up and head back to many activities that we have recently been unable to participate in, we must keep in mind the importance of staying COVID-safe and taking appropriate steps to protect ourselves as well as others. These steps include ensuring that we follow the health advice and public health orders based on where we live or where the activity is to take place. Certain sporting bodies may also have their own specific regulations which should be adhered to. These may change over time, so it is important to keep up to date with the latest information. Check out the current health orders relating to sport here: https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/stay-safe/rules/fully-vaccinated#toc-sport-and-exercise
Help your children recondition with this 4 week program:
For more information:
- Check out the current health orders relating to sport here: https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/stay-safe/rules/fully-vaccinated#toc-sport-and-exercise
- Learn more about the Patron of Kidsafe NSW, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC Governor of New South Wales: https://www.governor.nsw.gov.au/governor/biography-of-the-governor/
- Learn more about The Children’s Hospital Institute of Sports Medicine (CHISM) here:https://www.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/find-a-service/health-medical-services/sports-and-exercise-medicine/chw
- Learn more about The Healthy Body Company here: https://www.thehealthybodycompany.com.au
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