Post COVID-19, Returning to Sports

We are all aware that 2020 has disrupted our lives in many ways.

Everything from running errands, to school (for our children) and sports have all changed in some way.  Sports have been affected not only on the professional level but all the way down to grade school.  Something parents and athletes must be aware of is when children should return to their sport if they have tested positive for COVID-19.

There are a few factors to consider when answering the question of when to return to sports. The main factors are the severity of the athlete’s symptoms and the sport the athlete participates in.  Each sport has different physical demands of the participants. Archery, golf, baseball, and softball are not as physically demanding sports as football, basketball, wrestling and cross country. The more physically demanding sports may take longer to return to the need for cardiovascular endurance.  COVID-19 also affects each person it inhabits differently.  Some people are asymptomatic, others have mild symptoms and still, others end up with severe symptoms and in the hospital.  So the severity of the symptoms are going to have an effect on return to sport.

For a child to return to their sport, they should first be cleared by their provider (Nurse Practitioner, Pediatrician, Family Practice Doctor, or Physician’s Assistant).  This will ensure their heart and lungs will be able to handle the rigors of participating in a sport.  Once they have returned to their sport, it will be important for the athlete to slowly ramp up their activity level as they have been non-participating for at least 14 days.  What this ramp-up will allow is for their cardiovascular endurance to improve and decrease their risk for soft tissue injuries (muscle strains).

If an athlete returns to full practice without a ramp-up it is not unusual for soft tissue injuries to happen which results in more missed time from their sport.  So, I would encourage plenty of stretching as an athlete returns to their sport to avoid these types of injuries.  I would also encourage these athletes to listen to their bodies and communicate.

They should be communicating with their parents, the athletic trainer and their coaches.  This will make sure everyone is on the same page and doing what is right for all athletes.

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