Protect Young Athletes from Dehydration

Photo Credit: Derrick Mealiffe CC-BY-SA-2.0
Many children play sports outdoors during the summer. Dehydration can be a risk when the weather is hot and the kids are playing. Children who engage in vigorous exercise that includes running, baseball, softball and soccer can become dehydrated quickly. Protective clothing and padding can contribute to dehydration and overheating by holding in heat and preventing the evaporation of sweat. Children who may be especially susceptible to heat-related illness include those who are overweight, rarely exercise, have a condition like diabetes and children who have recently had a cold or flu. Dehydration can increase the risk of heatstroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps. Most team coaches are trained to prevent dehydration by providing water and drinks to restore electrolyte balance in young athletes, but don’t rely completely on your child’s coach. There are steps you can and should take to make sure your child remains hydrated during a game. 
Make sure that your child drinks plenty of water before and during a game or practice session. Take your own bottled water and sports drinks to the game or practice and make sure that your child drinks a cup of water at each break in the game. Learn the warning signs of dehydration and take action immediately if you think a child may be succumbing to a heat-related illness. Dehydration symptoms include a dry mouth, headache, thirst, cramps, dizziness and fatigue. Make sure your child knows how to recognize the symptoms of dehydration and to report symptoms to the coach or to you immediately. Left untreated with water, dehydration can result in confusion and loss of consciousness. A child that appears to be confused should be taken to an emergency room immediately. 
Dehydration is easily prevented by providing children with plenty of water before, during and after practice and games. Talk with your child’s team coach about dehydration prevention and the warning signs of dehydration. Games and practice should be cancelled or moved indoors when the temperature and humidity is high. 

Tennis Elbow

Photo Credit: Kos Public Domain
Painful joints, tendons and muscles of the elbow may indicate a condition known as lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow. As the name implies, tennis players who have not perfected the backhand return can suffer strained tendons that cause the pain of tennis elbow. Anyone may suffer this condition. Tennis elbow is caused by overworked tendons. People who engage in repetitive motions of the wrist and arm can be susceptible to tennis elbow. The pain may remain localized in the elbow or it can spread to the forearm and wrist. Severe tennis elbow pain can be debilitating. It can be difficult to turn a doorknob, pick up a coffee cup or hold a cooking pot by the handle. Tennis elbow will usually clear up on its own with some basic home-treatments. See a doctor if rest, ice and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers do not relieve symptoms of tennis elbow. 
Tennis elbow can affect anyone who engages in repetitive motion of the hand, wrist and arm, but some people are more susceptible to this painful condition. Chefs, painters, carpenters, plumbers and butchers often suffer from tennis elbow because of the daily repetition of the same arm movements. There are some ways to avoid this condition. First, learn the proper form when playing tennis, racquetball or golf. The swinging motion of the arm can result in stressed and injured tendons if the movement is not properly executed. When repetitive motions at work are the cause of tennis elbow, change to a more ergonomic way of performing the task. Raise or lower your chair if excessive use of a computer mouse is the culprit. Change the standard keyboard and computer mouse to ergonomically designed versions. Take frequent breaks from performing repetitive movements to stretch your arm muscles. Continue mild to moderate exercise as elbow pain allows and perform some stretching and strengthening exercises twice daily. Hold each exercise for up to 30 seconds and do up to 10 repetitions. 
Sit on a sturdy chair, bend the affected elbow and place your forearm on your thigh. Hold a light, 1-pound dumbbell in your  hand with your palm down, facing the floor. Your hand with the weight should be extended beyond your knee, far enough to allow the wrist and hand to move up and down without touching your knee. Slowly lift your wrist up toward the ceiling. Hold the position and then slowly lower your wrist down toward your knee and hold the position. After performing 10 repetitions, do the same exercise with your palm facing the ceiling while holding the dumbbell. Strengthen the tendons and muscles of your forearm by holding a dumbbell in your hand and extending your arm straight out in front of your body. Hold a dumbbell in your hand so that it is perpendicular to the floor. Your palm should be pointed toward your body. Rotate your hand and wrist until your palm is pointed at the floor. Slowly rotate back to the start position.