Posts Tagged 'exercise'

Raising healthy girls through sports

two girl soccer friends

As the mother of two daughters, a prime focus of mine is raising them to become strong, confident women. One way to encourage this is through sports.

Even for those not athletically inclined, introducing sports from a young age encourages development of physical strength and confidence, which helps create a healthy body image and increased self-esteem. Sports can be introduced in the form of individual sports or team sports.

Fostering a love for individual sports, such as running or swimming, can provide a later groundwork for future stress relief. If you and your child share that individual sport, it is a great way to bond with your child and sharing a lifelong love of a similar activity can be beneficial later in life as a constant to bond over.

Team sports can also provide a lot of benefits for girls by encouraging teamwork and facilitating positive social interactions. Sports also help to teach discipline, which can positively impact behavior at home and in school. Introducing sports from a young age can help girls to appreciate their bodies for their strengths and not just their beauty as many stereotypes focus upon.

Getting started

Introducing young girls to sports is easy even if you aren’t passionate about sports yourself. Many individual sports such as running can be practiced at home or in a nearby park. It can be fun to use a timer to track a child’s pace, help her achieve her goals, and monitor progress.

Most team sports start as young as age 3, but it isn’t necessary to wait until kids are preschool age if you’re able to join them for some parent/daughter bonding time. Once kids are about 18 months, there are many parent and child classes offered in the surrounding communities. Some common early-organized sports available to young girls are soccer, t-ball, dance, basketball and tennis. Once girls are preschool age, many of these organized sports are offered in a team setting through local YMCAs, community centers, and studios. Public schools also are a great resource as their varsity and JV teams sometimes have outreach programs offered to introduce school-age children to their corresponding sport. And, if you’re like me when introducing something new, a great place to visit is the library. After watching a few innings of a local elementary school softball game last summer, my daughter happily checked out several books on softball and baseball.

There are also many low-cost ways to introduce your daughters to sports with minimal equipment. Many local school playgrounds are open to the public during after-school hours and in the summer. There are often basketball hoops, soccer goals and baseball diamonds available at these schools. Investing in some kid-safe equipment and joining your daughters in practicing sports can build confidence and can be a fun bonding experience. In addition, some good sidewalk chalk can go a long way in creating a baseball diamond at home, although encouraging a younger brother to run to second base may still pose a challenge!

Above all, what is most important when introducing sports to young girls is to help foster a healthy appreciation of sports. By instilling this healthy habit, girls can increase their confidence through strength and positive social interactions, which in turn can help them to become strong, confident women.

– Melissa Rettmann, M.S., PA-C, has a background in pediatrics and allergy. She is the mother of three young children and volunteers with the Parenting Program.

Helping your child recover from a sports injury

soccer injury

Kids will be kids. That’s what they say, right? Unfortunately with kids playing sports at the level they do today, we have to deal with cuts, scrapes and bruises, but now also orthopedic sports injuries. Some of these require emergency room (ER) visits and doctor follow ups, but many of them can be healed at home with proper immediate care and a good recovery plan.

In this article, we talk about home recovery from mild sports injuries. It’s important to note that anytime there is concern about a broken bone, uncontrolled bleeding, head injury, or infection (such as tetanus), you should see a doctor right away, often at your local ER or urgent care center.

The first step is calming the pain and inflammation after injury. When the body is injured, swelling occurs from the inflammatory process the body elicits to prevent further damage to tissues; when swelling is high, pain usually follows quickly. We use the R.I.C.E. protocol to reduce and control this process, which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Usually the rest, ice and elevation all happen together—for example stopping soccer practice to place ice on your ankle while elevating it above your heart. The elevation above the heart level, which usually requires lying down, allows gravity to help move the swelling back toward the heart, doubling the effect.

Compression (e.g., wrapping an ACE bandage around the ankle) occurs after the icing and prevents more swelling from occurring. Icing should be done no more than 10–15 minutes at a time and always with a barrier between ice and skin. Fun fact: Ice can burn the skin as easily as heat! Anti-inflammatory medication is also an option to reduce inflammation, but always at the recommendation of a physician to ensure the proper dosing and safety for your child.

After the swelling and pain are reduced, your child may be itching to return to his or her sport, but it’s important to have a slow return back to full performance to allow for greatest potential of no reoccurrence or reinjury. This may be participating in only practice with the ability to take a break if pain returns, staying away completely and doing exercises at home, and/or coming to physical therapy in addition to return to sport. Teachers and coaches must be made aware of the injury and should be accommodating to your child during recovery. If your child is too young to understand his limits or her coach is pressuring without accommodating, then you, as a parent, must take charge of your child’s recovery and keep away from the sport for extra time. When our muscles are working at only 50 or 60 percent, they are more susceptible to additional injuries from overworking or incorrect form. Taking extra time away and addressing the targeted area allows muscles to recover fully before being asked to perform at a high level.

So how do I know what to do for my child? For a complex injury or if you really are clueless, that is what your local physical therapist is for! Depending on the severity of the injury, your child may need to see a specialized sports medicine doctor, but we can evaluate your child and create a specific exercise program in just a few sessions. Sometimes three or four sessions to watch the healing and learn some exercises is all it takes. However if we identify fundamental issues that may have contributed to the injury, therapy may continue for a while. Remember, often kids listen better to instruction coming from someone other than mom or dad.

A good start on a minor injury is to exercise that body part starting with non-weight-bearing (called open-chain in rehab world) and progressing to weight-bearing (called closed-chain). For hand and upper extremity injuries, children should start with no weight and slowly add weight or resistance. Please keep in mind that pre-pubescent children should never perform heavy or repeated weight lifting, due to the integrity of growth plates.

So now that your child is ready to return to her activity, remember slow and steady wins the race! The hardest thing to do is hold back, but often times injuries feel fine with day-to-day work and we aren’t truly sure of where our healing is until it is tested. Not to mention, after a break from working out, everything is a little rusty and just like we need to work back up slowly to full strength, so do our children.

For any other questions or if you feel your child needs a skilled evaluation for his injury, give us a call at any of our Center for Children’s Rehabilitation locations in Grosse Pointe, Royal Oak, Macomb, and West Bloomfield.

– Lauren Sofen, PT, DPT, PCS, Physical Therapist, Beaumont Health Center/Neighborhood Club

Safety on the slopes

Boy sledding wearing a helmet

Sledding is a great way to stay active during the time of year that most people tend to stay indoors. In order to keep safe on the slopes, review tips before you head out the door.

  • Bundle up! Here are some tips on how to prevent hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Encourage taking some breaks to warm up and also stay hydrated.
  • Choose a designated sledding hill that is free of trees and away from busy roads.
  • Helmets should be worn by all children under the age of 12. Ideally this would be a helmet specifically designed for winter sports, but a bicycle helmet could be used as well.
  • Discourage riding head first on a sled. Always have your child sit forward facing.
  • Teach kids to keep their arms and legs inside the sled and if they should fall out, move out of the path of others.
  • Never use a motorized vehicle to pull a sled. The most severe sledding injuries we’ve seen at our trauma center were caused by this mechanism.
  • Make sure someone has a cell phone if there is a need to call for help. If your older children are going alone, talk to them about situations that would warrant calling 911, for example a neck injury requiring immobilization of the spine.

– Erica Surman, RN, BSN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Beaumont Health System

Yoga Moms prenatal yoga

Pregnant mom doing yoga meditation

Cropped image. Randy Pantouw, Flickr. CC license.

In honor of National Yoga Month, we are highlighting Beaumont’s prenatal yoga program, Yoga Moms.

If you’re expecting a baby, prenatal yoga can be a great way to relax, stay fit and prepare for birth. Studies have suggested that prenatal yoga may:

  • Improve sleep
  • Reduce stress
  • Decrease swelling
  • Encourage socialization and support with other expectant moms
  • Increase strength and flexibility of the muscles needed for birth
  • Decrease low back pain, nausea, headaches and shortness of breath
  • Decrease the risk of pregnancy induced hypertension

Beaumont’s Community Health Education Department offers Yoga Moms at SOLA Life and Fitness in Rochester Hills and the Beverly Hills Club in Southfield. The six-week class series is taught by certified yoga instructors. Classes include breathing, gentle stretching, postures and relaxation. The class is recommended for any stage of pregnancy, with physician approval.

For more information or to register, visit Yoga Moms or call 800-633-7377.

Summertime Outdoor Exploration

Little girl using sidewalk chalk

Unaltered image by Eric Baum. CC license.

Outdoor fun can be a great learning experience as children gain many experiences by playing outside. Encouraging outside play incorporates important aspects of your child’s growth and development, including balance; coordination; strengthening; range of motion; eye, hand, and foot coordination; and sensory awareness. These areas promote continued gross and fine mo­tor achievement.

There are many types of outdoor activities to choose from, including:

  • Water play: Swimming, water toys, sprinklers, water balloons.
  • Outdoor games: Hopscotch, jump roping, playing catch, kicking a ball, jumping.
  • Wheeled toys: Tricycles and bicycles, scooters, roller skates, rollerblades.
  • Play structure activities: Slides, monkey bars, swings, climbing walls.
  • Outdoor opportunities: Sand, mud, grass, drawing with sidewalk chalk, walking on uneven surfaces and textures, walking on curbs, hiking in the woods.
  • Fun walking activities. Skipping, galloping, running, marching, walking on toes or heels, and going for a walk.

These simple and fun ideas lay a strong foundation for your child’s sensory, gross and fine motor development. These activities are also an excellent opportunity for the family to get some exercise and spend time together.

It’s important to make time to play with your child. Always remember safety awareness, including sunscreen, bug repellent, helmets for wheeled toy activities and adult supervision.

Be safe and have fun!

– Amanda Froling, MPT, Beaumont Pediatric Rehabilitation

Good Fit, Safe Ride

Boy Riding a Bike

image credit: Michael Bentley

Spring is off to a chilly and damp start, but warmer weather has to be around the corner, right? As the weather improves and the bikes, scooters and other riding toys get dusted off, it’s important to remember that your children need to wear properly fitting helmets every time.

Safe Kids Worldwide has a three-step helmet fit test:

  1. Eyes: Put the helmet on your head. Look up. You should see the bottom rim of the helmet. The rim should be one or two finger-widths about the eyebrows.
  2. Ears: Make sure the straps form a “V” under the ears when buckled. The straps should be a little tight but comfortable.
  3. Mouth: Open your mouth as wide as you can. Does the helmet hug your head? If not, tighten the straps.

You can watch a video of that three-step test, too.

Other important things to remember:

  • Take the time to make sure the helmet fits your child correctly when you purchase it; don’t buy a helmet for your child to “grow into.”
  • Children grow quickly so check the fit of the helmet each time your child goes out.
  • Helmets and playgrounds don’t mix. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns that there’s a “hidden hazard of strangulation if a child wears a helmet while playing on playgrounds.”
  • Children learn from example, so wear your helmet, too!

Use the Snow to Work on Motor Skills

sleddingIt’s cold and snowy during Michigan winters. Here are some great ideas to get your family moving and your kids working on improving their motor skills.

An outside snowy day is the perfect place to play. Getting ready for snow fun can be both challenging and rewarding. Putting on the snowpants, snugging the straps, pulling on the boots, zipping up the coat, placing the hat on, and finding just the right spot for your thumb in the mittens are all fine motor and body awareness skills children can achieve when given the time and the incentive. A  little help may be needed  for the youngest ones.

Once out the door in all the layers, a whole snow filled playground awaits in the yard. Running with boots on, wow that’s hard work! Check out the snow, is the snow soft, crunchy, wet, flaky, good for packing, or powdery?


  • Make a snow angel, that’s exercise, now try to get up without squashing the angel. Does it look like you?
  • Ready to make a snowman? Pack a snowball tight, now roll and roll, keep pushing it, use your arm, trunk, and leg strength. Now make 2 more and ask mom or dad to put them on top.  Find  some coal for eyes and a carrot for the nose and you have the perfect snowman.
  • Make a footprint path in the snow for your friends and parents to follow. Take big steps and small steps, jump with 2 feet. Try out some snow shoes, that will make walking a bit more challenging.
  • Play games outside. Hide and seek, red rover, red light- green light, kick ball, hockey, football or baseball can all be fun in the snow.
  • Ready for sledding?  Younger children enjoy being pulled on a sled, while the older ones seek the hills. Sledding down and climbing back up over and over builds great strength and endurance. No hills in your yard? Not a problem. Pack some snow and make your own hills. Children can pull each other on sleds for a good workout. Let your  imagination take over and be creative.
  • Build a fort, shovel a path, look for animal tracks, or make animal tracks, these are all ways to enjoy being outside.
  • Are you ready for more adventure?  Go ice skating.  Many rinks have open skate. Rental skates are often available and they may also provide plastic PVC walkers for children to help with balance. Bring your own bike or skating helmet with you. Ice skating is fun and challenging. It incorporates balance, coordination, and strength. Children about 3 years old can really start to enjoy skating, they don’t have far to fall and they will enjoy the quick progress they will make.
  • How about a skiing trip? Many places have equipment rental and lessons for the whole family. And they often have adapted equipment so that even members of the family with physical challenges can participate. Skiing is great for strength, balance and endurance. And just pure family fun.


After such and exciting day the kids will climb out of the layers of clothing, pile up the boots, and are ready for a snack. Soup or hot chocolate are just perfect to warm up all over. Expect your kids to go to bed early after such a fun and exhausting day.

–Amanda Froling, MPT and Carol L. Julien-Buell, MPT, Beaumont Hospital


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