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Back to School

It’s that time of year again!
Time for back to school!
And that means it is time for all of the Back-To-School excitement.  With this, comes BIG schedule changes.  
Your athlete has gone from a relaxed schedule of lazy mornings, long hours in the gym (the best part of the day), and hanging out with friends on the weekdays and weekends to a more structured schedule of school, practice, homework, repeat!
This is can be a big stressor for some girls, especially teenage girls. 
Because it’s not just the stress of a tight schedule.  It’s the stress of homework and grades and school friends and boys and lack of sleep and not to mention the competition season is (possibly) right around the corner.  
Back to school can be fun and exciting, but it can also bring a lot of stress to a girl, especially a teenage girl.  
And most female athletes are perfectionists!
Which adds a whole other level of stress…
They HAVE to get an A on that test, they HAVE to write that paper perfectly, they HAVE to be on time to everything, their outfit HAS to be perfect, their routines HAVE to be flawless, every practice HAS to be a productive one, and so on and so on.  
It’s simply how they are wired.  Successful teenage female athletes are committed to just about everything (they consider important) in their lives.  They want to give 110% to everything, because that is how they operate.  
So while they have been able to focus all of their attention to making progress in the gym (especially after a 2 month break – thanks COVID!) over the summer, now they have to focus their attention to school and practice and friends.  
Some girls can make this a smooth transition and don’t miss a beat.  But for some kiddos, this can be a lot to handle.
So what can you, as a parent, do??
Be there for her.
Look for signs of stress.
Look for signs of burnout.
Listen to what she’s saying.
Watch how she is acting, watch her behaviors.  
Watch her mood, her energy level, her sleep patterns, her eye contact, even her hygiene.
Her behaviors WILL speak louder than her words.  These things will tell you how she is doing…even if she says “I’m fine!”
Understand that she wakes up early every morning, goes to school for 6-7 hours, comes home to grab a snack, heads to practice for 2-3 hours, comes home to eat a quick dinner, does her homework, then goes to bed.  
This leaves little time for self care, fun, or even relaxation.  Even worse for a perfectionist!
If you start to notice these things, do what you can to help.  Make sure she is eating the right foods at meals and snacks.  Make sure she is sleeping at LEAST 8 hours.  Make sure she drinking enough water throughout the day.  Make sure she gets some free time, even if it is just weekends, to have some fun.  
You are her parent.  She will mirror your behavior. 
Remember, she is just a teenage girl.  It’s just as important for her to have FUN outside of school and her sport.  This will help her grow, breathe, and recharge when she needs it.  
If you notice she isn’t doing well in practice or she is not moving around the same, something could be causing pain.  One study found that greater than 60% of gymnasts would not report an injury if it meant they would not be able to reach their goal of competing.  
**True Story – I did this.  I rolled my ankle one day in practice and didn’t tell ANYONE.  Not my coach, not my teammates, not my parents.  I went the entire practice without saying a thing.  My mom didn’t find out until the next day when I was literally crying in my cereal and my ankle was swollen the size of a golf ball.  But, I didn’t want to miss ANOTHER season!**
If you notice something is off with your young athlete, find out what it is.  If she has an injury, or lingering pain, give me a call.  I can help with that!  
My goal is to help her manage all of her stressors, reduce her pain, and get her back to practice as quickly and as safely as possible.  
I will work with her, you (her parents), and her coaches to create the best course of action. 
I’ve been there (MANY times, read about that here) and know exactly what she is feeling.  I don’t want her to have to miss a season.  I don’t want her to feel stressed by all the things in her life.  I will listen to her and we will create a plan!
I want to support her and her parents.  An athletic injury is always an unplanned event which throws everything into a tailspin and always adds more stress.  My job is to be the constant support while moving her forward, back to the gym, likely stronger than before.  Also, my job is to help her parents know how to help her.
If you would like me to be a part of “her team” contact me.  
Email me at jodi@motusvitapt.org and we can discuss her needs.  
Let’s help her manage her stressors.  
Let me help you navigate this journey. 
Visit www.motusvitapt.org for more information on what I do and how I can help! 
Click Here to join my Email list for all things related to physical therapy, gymnastics, cheerleading, teen health, and female athletes!
photo credit
 
Abbey Saxton Photography
 

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