Kids are just as prone to sports injuries as adults. The only difference is that children tend to heal faster. Once an injury occurs, however, the child athlete must sit on the sidelines for the time frame determined by his or her doctor, and that is no fun at all. It is best to follow a few tips that will prevent these sports injuries from ever happening in the first place.
Schedule a Physical
Most schools require students to get a physical prior to the first day of practice, no matter what the sports team. This is extremely important, even if the school does not have a sports physical requirement. The child’s pediatrician will be able to evaluate overall health and identify any concerns before they become a problem down the road. He or she may also suggest a daily exercise routine that will keep the athlete healthy and strong.
Take Daily Vitamins
KidsHealth.org recommends that children take calcium to increase bone strength and iron to carry much needed oxygen throughout the body. If your pre-teen or teen has these nutrients in their multivitamin, then there is no need to give them extra. If not, you’ll want to look into getting them as supplements.
Make Stretching a Priority
Stretching is vital to loosening up the muscles and increasing flexibility to lessen the chance of injuring them. Safekids.org recommends 10 minutes of a light activity followed by a stretch of each major muscle for 20-30 seconds each. Parents may want to check with their child’s coach to see if this is already being done. If not, then the child can set aside the time before each practice and game to do it themselves before hitting the field.
Insist on a Cool-Down
Just like the stretching is important to warm your body up for a lot of physical activity, a cool-down is important to slowly decrease your heart rate back to a normal rhythm. In fact, the American Heart Association even warns that a person could pass out without a cool-down and suggests walking for about 5 minutes and then doing a few stretches.
Pack Plenty of Water
Kids sweat while playing sports, which means they are losing fluids at a rapid pace. Dehydration can lead to a great number of physical ailments. The easiest way to avoid any issues is to pack plenty of water in your child’s gym bag. Gather enough water for before, during, and after the practice.
Wear Proper Attire
Wearing the right attire is essential in preventing sports injuries in children. First, your kids need to put on any protective gear made for the sport they are playing. Hockey players require mouth guards, for example, while football players need shoulder pads. Soccer stars wear shin guards and cleats. After you obtain the appropriate gear for the sport, look at the clothing. Is it loose-fitting and breathable? Do the shoes provide proper arch support?
While it is a great idea for all individuals to avoid excessive amounts of sugars, it is especially true for child athletes. Kids crave sugar and not all have developed a will-power against it. Parents should be warned, however, that a large amount of sugar on the day of practice may end with a sugar crash, which leaves a child feeling extremely fatigued. If the child gets tired, he or she won’t be as alert during a game, and that is when an injury is more likely to take place.
Watch for Unsafe Conditions
Before walking on to the football or soccer field, take a few minutes to look it over. Is there trash that could trip someone? Did it rain a few hours before and the field is wet and slippery? Falling the wrong way can mean a sprained ankle or even a broken hand if you try to brace yourself for the fall. Instead, opt to skip any practice or game when the field is unsafe.
Know the Rules of the Game
Children are less likely to crash into each other if they know the rules of the game. Quiz your son or daughter to make sure he or she knows exactly what to do when playing the sport. This is important more so for the younger kids who haven’t had much experience, but it doesn’t hurt to have a refresher course with the older ones.
Don’t Play When in Pain
Should your child already have an injury that is a bit painful, but not too serious, it is still best to stay off the field. There is a reason our bodies emit pain. It is a warning. The part of the body that is in pain is going to be more susceptible to a serious injury than when it is 100 percent healthy. Which is better – taking three days to rest and get better before playing, or being stick in a cast for four to six weeks because you played and got injured? Always listen to what your body is telling you and you’ll be able to avoid unnecessary injuries.