As a parent, the number one thing we want for our kids is to keep them safe. While sports can be a great activity for kids, it can also be dangerous—especially contact sports. We’re not saying no to these activities, but parents should know about potential injuries and concerns associated with certain sports. Here are some ways to protect your kids from getting seriously hurt.
Know the Symptoms
One of the most serious injuries that can happen is a concussion. A concussion is an impact to the head or spine and is absorbed by the brain. Concussions happen most often in boxing, football, soccer, hockey, and lacrosse. Symptoms vary depending on which part of the brain was affected, but the key signs to lookout for include:
- Feeling foggy
- Blurry vision
If you think your child has a concussion, remove them from the activity and have a trained medical staff evaluate them. In some occasions, traumatic brain injuries such as concussions can be caused by another person or party acting in a negligent manner. Sports injuries can take significant amounts of time to heal, and frequently require extensive medical attention.
If you’re unfamiliar with how to navigate this process, it might be worthwhile to consult with legal professionals who are well-versed in the area of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.
Other injuries or issues you should be on the lookout for are broken bones, sprains, and signs of dehydration. It’s easy to spot a sprain or broken bone—your child will most likely cry out in pain as a first indicator. Again, have a medical expert examine them to determine the next course of action and remove them from their current activity.
Dehydration isn’t as easy to spot but is critical to avoid. Here are the symptoms to watch for:
- Dizziness or weakness
- Dry mouth
- Flushed, red skin
You want to be on high alert for dehydration before your child faints or collapses. Drinking lots of water or sport drinks with electrolytes are key to keeping them hydrated.
Wear Protective Gear
Another way to keep your child safe is to ensure they’re wearing the correct protective gear. This includes helmets, mouthguards, cleats, eye protection, braces, pads, and/or wearing a cup. Each sport requires different gear, so be sure to ask for a full gear list when you enroll your child.
Wearing the right gear will help reduce the risk of injury, but also make sure their gear is also the correct size and fits properly. Having something too tight or too loose could also result in an injury, so have one of the trainers or coaches check their gear.
Before your child starts their first game, match, or meet, make sure they’ve received the proper training. They need to attend every team practice or workout. When they’re not on the field, rink, or court, be sure that they’re stretching their muscles and warming up. Muscles are more likely to get injured if they haven’t been warmed up and stretched out. Some easy stretching exercises include walking or jogging, jumping jacks, and light push-ups and sit-ups.
While it’s important to stay limber and active, you also don’t want your child to overdo it. Don’t allow them to take on more miles or weights than they can handle. They need to know when to stop before they pull a muscle or injure something. You can talk to your child’s pediatrician or work with a professional to create an appropriate training or strength conditioning schedule.
Stay Healthy & Hydrated
We touched on dehydration earlier, but we can’t stress it enough: DRINK PLENTY OF WATER. Keeping your kids hydrated is super important, but there are other things to do to keep them healthy and safe while playing sports:
- If possible, play or train during the coolest part of the day
- Take breaks every 15-20 minutes
- If they feel dizzy or lightheaded, stop and rest
- Wear loose-fitted clothing to help cool the body
- Eat healthy meals and snacks
- Get lots of sleep
Lots of Rest
Getting a full night of sleep is important, but also resting their muscles is key. Take a break in between games and practice, so their muscles have time to rest. If they’re injured, be sure that they stay off the field or court. If they try to return too soon, you run the risk of them re injuring themselves. Have your child cleared by a doctor to make sure they’re fully healed and ready to return to sports or any physical activity.
With the proper precautions and knowing the signs and symptoms of injury, your child can experience the many benefits of sports including:
- Learning respect, discipline, and organization
- Encouraging teamwork
- Building friendships
- Raising self-esteem
- Improving confidence