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Sep 2022

Get a move on safely this season

Here are some tips for staying safe and healthy while you and your children get a move on, along with some healthful snack ideas for the little ones and the adults.

'Injury-proof' yourself as you increase your activity this fall

Aaron Gutjahr, ACSM CPT, TPI CGFI/ CGI, FMS, is the manager of Move by BJC, the BJC fitness center, and a certified golf instructor and golf professional. Here, he shares advice on how to “injury-proof” yourself as you increase your activity this fall.

Fall is, by far, my favorite time to golf. Lucky for me, I don’t have to prepare my body for fall golf because I’ve been doing my best all summer to book 18-hole rounds regularly. Additionally, as a golf instructor, I’m always moving in golf-like fashion with my clients.

Not everyone plays or teaches their favorite sport year-round, as I often do. For those of you who increase your activity in the fall, whether it be for school sports, 5K fun runs or leisurely bike rides, it's important that you prepare for the increase in activity.

If you were an athlete at any age, you probably know that you won’t become a better athlete without practicing your sport. To be more specific, you won’t become a faster runner without trying to run faster. You won’t suddenly swing a golf club faster without practicing swinging faster and you won’t be a more agile soccer player without practicing agility.

I say this because sometimes it's difficult to understand the link between what — and how — you should prepare for your upcoming return to sports or activity. Not preparing can mean injury.

However, how to “injury-proof” yourself can be difficult to figure out because it means adding very important components to your activity that you may not have thought of. It takes more than just running to become a better runner or more than just swinging faster to increase your club head speed.

At Move by BJC, we spend much of our time completing corrective exercises with our clients. Corrective exercises are those that help to mobilize or stabilize a joint, and therefore help the person move better.

To mobilize yourself, try the following:

Prepare for activity actively by performing high knee steps, walking toe touches, leg kicks, hip swings and walking lunges with rotation.

The last exercise — a walking lunge with rotation — is pretty magical. It uses every major muscle group in your body at once and promotes movement in multiple planes. Here’s how you do it:

  • From a standing position, take a BIG step forward and drop your back knee all the way to the ground. That’s the lunge part. Now raise both arms straight out ahead of you and rotate your upper body toward the leg that is in front of you. So, if you lunged forward with your right foot, rotate to the right and vice versa. Complete 10-20 reps to get your legs, glutes, core and shoulders all warmed up.

To boost stability, try the following:

Joint stability is a very important component in injury prevention. Practice promoting stability with exercises such as wall sits, planks and supermans, and single leg layouts.

A single leg layout can be a bit advanced, but it’s a wonderfully effective exercise to strengthen and stabilize all at once:

  • From a standing position, balance on one leg. Push the leg that isn’t on the ground out behind you. As the leg goes farther back, bend forward at the waist and extend your arms above your head. Soon, you’ll be a position like superman flying, except your one leg is planted on the ground with a soft knee. Hold this position for 1-5 seconds, bring yourself back up straight and repeat. Do 4-6 reps on each leg and you should feel your ankles, knees, hips and core all feeling stable but ready for movement.

Using your head to help your child recover from and avoid concussions

Sports-related concussions have gotten more press in recent years. Terra Blatnik, MD, Washington University sports medicine doctor at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, offers some tips on what to do if your child suffers a concussion while playing.

Parents, coaches and athletes know that playing football can put high schoolers at risk for serious injury from concussions. But other school sports, including soccer, lacrosse, basketball and cheerleading pose concussion risks as well.

Luckily, there are simple steps to take that can help young athletes recover from, and more importantly, prevent dangerous concussions, says Terra Blatnik, MD, Washington University sports medicine doctor at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Concussions are brain injuries that result when a blow to the head or the body jolts the brain into the inside of the skull hard and fast enough to disrupt normal brain function. Brain cells are stretched or injured, throwing brain chemicals out of whack, says Dr. Blatnik.

Symptoms and when to see a doctor

Concussions can’t be seen on CT scans or X-rays, but a variety of symptoms can be a clue that an athlete has sustained an injury, says Dr. Blatnik. Those symptoms include:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • difficulty concentrating in school
  • sluggishness or grogginess
  • blurry vision
  • difficulty sleeping
  • moodiness

Any child with these symptoms after a hit or fall should never go back to play the same day, Dr. Blatnik says. “When in doubt — hold them out,” she says.

Symptoms may show up or worsen over the next several days before getting better. Call your doctor if the symptoms don’t improve or get worse after a few days.

Symptoms including loss of consciousness, slurred speech, a worsening headache or unequal pupil size can be signs of a more serious injury and should be treated by a doctor or at an emergency room immediately.

Recovery

Most concussions are relatively mild, however, with symptoms clearing up within a week.

“But everybody’s brain is a little different,” says Dr. Blatnik. “Some kids will take a week to get better. Some take much longer.”

Getting plenty of rest to let the brain heal is the most important thing a child can do to recover from a concussion. Limiting screen time, bright lights and loud noises also can help recovery. Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve headache pain.

Young athletes should stay on the sidelines until all their symptoms have cleared up, Dr. Blatnik says.

“Kids shouldn’t go back to sports and other activities until they are totally asymptomatic,” she says. “No more headaches. No more dizziness. And they should be feeling like their normal selves again.”

Dr. Blatnik encourages parents to monitor their child’s symptoms and ask their child to be honest about what symptoms they’re experiencing.

Children should ease gradually back into their normal activities.

Preventing concussions

Concussions, like other sports injuries, can often be prevented, says Dr. Blatnik. While helmets and mouthguards are very important in preventing other injuries, they typically don’t prevent concussions. Instead, learning skills and correct techniques coupled with proper regulation are key, she says.

For instance, U.S. child soccer programs typically don’t allow younger participants to head balls. When heading is allowed, it’s important for coaches to teach proper technique, she says.

The same with football. The Pop Warner Association children’s football and cheerleading league has instituted safety measures including banning full-speed tackling and certain cheer moves. It also requires coaches to take safety training.

Safety regulations and proper coaching make sports safer for kids and dealing with concussions less of a headache for parents.

For more information on head and neck safety in children’s sports, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s HEADS UP to Youth Sports website.

Healthy snacks keep kids and adults fueled through fall sports season

Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital dietitians Jessica Stafford, Brittany Metzger and Elizabeth Plummer shared tips and a recipe to keep young athletes and their parents going during the busy fall sports season.

Children grow fast and need many nutrients to support their growth, especially children who participate in sports. Eating three meals per day that include a variety of food groups helps to lay a healthy foundation. Adding snacks between meals helps to fill in calorie and nutrient gaps. 

Young athletes should eat a small snack before sporting events to start off fueled and energized. Good snack choices include foods that are light and easy to digest.

If practice goes longer than 3-4 hours, kids should stop for a snack. Think of this snack as an opportunity to refuel and recharge so they have the energy to get through the rest of practice. An after-practice or after-game snack is important as well because it replaces the nutrients used during the activity

Pre-activity/during activity snack ideas:
  • Half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • An orange and a cheese stick
  • Apple slices and peanut butter
  • Granola bar with nuts and dried fruit
  • Popcorn and a handful of nuts
Post-activity snack ideas:
  • Cup of low-fat chocolate milk and a banana
  • Container of low-fat yogurt with berries and granola
  • Smoothie made with low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk and frozen fruit
  • Whole sandwich with baby carrots
  • Fruit, cheese and crackers
  • Cottage cheese with berries
Parents need snacks, too!

Sporting events can be long, so parents may need to have a snack, too. Instead of being tempted by high-calorie/low-nutrition items at the concession stand, parents can bring snacks from home.

Snacks should be nutrient-dense, yet filling. The best snacks for parents should include a protein and a piece of produce. Protein takes longer to digest, so it has the power to help you stay full and satisfied. Produce (i.e., fruits and vegetables) offers many nutrients including vitamins, minerals and fiber while also being low in calories.

Don’t forget the liquids

Hydration should start the day before the sporting event. Make sure your kids are drinking water throughout the day, not just on the day of the event.

Keep hydration fun and easy by using a water bottle that your child likes and wants to drink from. Depending on your child’s age, drinking from a water bottle with a straw or squeeze top may be easier and help him/her drink more.

Water is the best fluid to hydrate with. Low-fat milk is a great liquid to have with meals and snacks because it provides protein and calcium. Juice drinks made from 100% juice are another good option with a meal or snack, but for overall health, juice should be limited to 4-6 ounces per day.

Sport drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade can be used during and after sporting events. These liquids help replace nutrients, such as electrolytes and glycogen, lost during activities.

Parents need to stay hydrated, too, and water is again the best choice. Use an insulated bottle to keep the water cold. Think about carrying a cooler with bottles of water or cans of sparkling water. To add flavor to water, add powdered flavor packets or fresh fruit to water.

Recipe

This easy-to-make trail mix offers a nutritious, filling hit of energy for kids and adults, alike.

Munchy Trail Mix

(Adapted from Betty Crocker recipes)

2 cups whole-grain oat cereal (such as Cheerios)

2 cups bite-size squares cereal (any variety)

2 cups crispy corn puffs cereal

1 cup raisins

1 cup candy-coated chocolate candies (optional)

1 cup peanuts (optional)

In large bowl or resealable food-storage plastic bag, mix all ingredients. (If serving to children under 4 years old, omit the raisins and peanuts.) Store tightly covered.

Get active outdoors in September and October

Not too hot, not too cool, lots of sunshine — beautiful weather makes September and October prime time for walking, running, hiking and biking in St. Louis. Organized walk/run events and bike rides abound this time of year and are a great way to get outside, get some exercise, support a cause or just have fun.

Fall in the St. Louis area brings a variety of events to choose from:

Trailnet Ride the Rivers Century

Saturday, Oct. 1

Start and end in St. Charles, Missouri

Bike riders can challenge themselves by riding a century (approx. 100 miles) or a metric century (approx. 64 miles) through Missouri and Illinois, with rides on the Golden Eagle, Brussels and Grafton ferries. Learn more.

Want to walk, run or ride on your own? Check out the Great Rivers Greenways and the Madison County Transit Trails sites to find miles of dedicated, paved trails near you.

Mo’ Cowbell Marathon (with other distances)

Sunday, Oct. 2

St. Charles, Missouri

This day of racing can be as serious or silly as you want it to be! The marathon is a certified qualifier for the Boston, New York and London marathons, among others. But many participants prefer to walk or run a shorter distance — sometimes in costume — with the crowd ringing cowbells to urge them on. Learn more and register.

St. Louis County 30 for 30 Hikes program

Locations throughout north, west and south St. Louis County

St. Louis County’s 30 for 30 Hikes program encourages fun, family and a healthy lifestyle with 30 trails you can walk in 30 minutes. Download the punch card and get a punch for every trail you walk. Walk all 30 trails, get 30 punches and you’ll get a prize.

Sierra Club Missouri Chapter/Eastern Missouri Group Hikes

Go hiking with other outdoor enthusiasts. The Sierra Club Missouri Chapter is sponsoring group hikes in September at Castlewood State Park, the Young Conservation Area and LaBarque Creek. Learn more.