Interscholastic and intermural sports are more popular than ever for children in the United States. They are a great way to help keep children and adolescents healthy, and promote a positive self-image. But many parents worry about sports related injuries; here are a couple tips on how to help with injury prevention.
- Understand the risks: All sports present some level of injury risk. Contact sports may seem to be the most obvious source, but the reality is that most sports related injuries are caused by overuse. The most common sports related injuries are sprains, stress fractures, and strains. Any point tenderness should be evaluated by a doctor, even if there are no visible signs of swelling, bruising, or changes in motion.
- Time Off: Growing children should be given at least 1 day off a week, in order to give the body time to recover.
- Proper Protective Gear: It is imperative that athletes be fitted properly with the appropriate protective gear for their sport. Many sports require a variety of protective gear, including pads for the neck, shoulder, elbow, chest, knee, shin, helmets, mouth pieces, eyewear, and protective cups. It is important that a child knows that wearing this gear does not guarantee that injury will not occur, but rather a method of prevention.
- Stretching and Strengthening Muscles: Conditioning the muscles to activity and strain helps to prevent injuries to the muscles themselves. Keeping muscles conditioned, and stretching before and after activity, goes a long way in injury prevention!
- Use Proper Technique: there is a reason proper technique is established, and it should be used at all times during an activity. This not only allows for the best performance, but also helps in the prevention of injury from poor form.
- Take breaks: It is important to take breaks during games and practice to give the body a short break, and prevent heat related illness.
- Stop for ANY Pain: It is important to stop and evaluate the situation if your child is feeling pain while practicing or competing. It is unwise to assume that the pain is just a cramp or fatigue, as it may be a sign of something more serious.
- Drink A Lot of Fluids: It is important to stay hydrated while participating in any physical activities. Hydration helps to keep the muscles from becoming fatigued, and helps prevent against heat related illness.
Remember, the main goal is to have fun, and do it in a safe and productive manner. Following these steps gives your child the best chances of a long and healthy season.