With limited travel this summer, more children have signed up for sports activities than ever before. Sport helps children and adolescents keep their bodies fit and feel good about themselves (and keeps them away from screens…). However, there are some important injury prevention tips that can help parents promote a safe, optimal sports experience for their child.
All sports have a risk of injury. Fortunately, for the vast majority of youth, the benefits of sports participation outweigh the risks. In general, the more contact in a sport, the greater the risk of a traumatic injury. However, most injuries in young athletes are due to overuse.
The most frequent types of sports injuries are sprains (injuries to ligaments) strains (injuries to muscles), and stress fractures (injuries to bones). Injury occurs when excessive stress is placed on tendons, joints, bones and muscle. In a growing child, point tenderness over a bone should be evaluated further by a medical provider even if there is minimal swelling or limitation in motion. Contact your pediatrician if you have additional questions or concerns.
To reduce the risk of injury:
Take time off. Plan to have at least 1 day off per week to allow the body to recover.
Wear the right gear. Players should wear appropriate and properly fit protective equipment such as pads (neck, shoulder, elbow, chest, knee, shin), helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups, and eyewear.
Strengthen muscles. Conditioning exercises during training strengthens muscles used in play.
Increase flexibility. Stretching exercises after games or practice can increase flexibility. Stretching should also be incorporated into a daily fitness plan.
Use the proper technique. This should be reinforced during the playing season.
Take breaks. Rest and stretch periods during training and games will reduce injuries and prevent heat illness.
Play safe. Follow strict rules of each game. Do not play through pain.
Avoid heat illness by drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise or play; decrease or stop training sessions or competitions during very hot weather warning; wear light clothing.
If children are jumping on a trampoline, they should be supervised and only one child should be on a small trampoline at a time; 75% of trampoline injuries occur when more than one person is jumping at a time. Avoid to go jumping for more than 1 hour.