School holiday balancing acts

School holidays are important for children to take a break both mentally & physically from the day to day stress of school. Often as us adults struggle with all the pressures of our day to day lives, we roll our eyes at how ‘stressed’ out teenagers are with seemingly easier days than us. For adolescents and teenagers though, their brains are going through such a stage of development, that school holidays and rest are critical for them.

School holidays are also a convenient time for sporting associations and clubs to schedule special events whether that be extra training or lessons, district or state competitions or dance eisteddfods, to name but a few. For some young dancers, their holidays comprise competitions for one half and intensive training for exams the other half and then back to school – so much for a break!

This is where parents, teachers and coaches need to work as a team to find the right ‘balance’ for our teenagers. Without adequate rest, the risk of mental and physical fatigue increases, and the risk of injury increases. The pressures our young athletes put themselves under to be the best they can be and to not let anyone down has led to an unusual state where our sporty teenagers are spending more hours per week training and playing than professional athletes do. Professional, adult athletes that don’t require the same amounts of sleep and rest as teenagers do. Professional athletes that wouldn’t dream of undertaking some of the excessive loads some teenagers do for fear of sustaining a career threatening injury.

To help our budding athletes in achieving their goals and dreams, they need some balanced advice. 

They need to spend some time on their holidays resting from both school and whatever their chosen sport is. This doesn’t mean they should spend all their down time sedentary and in front of computer games. Getting some fresh air going on easy bush walks or bike trips with the family are examples of some ways to recharge the teenage batteries.

Ensuring a full night’s sleep without devices hidden away under pillows is also a must. Sleep is critical for cells to regenerate and for developing brains to function at their best.

These school holidays help your sporty teenager to get the balance right!

Susan McLean
Physiotherapist & Pilates Instructor
Sandgate Physical Health Clinic