With sports camps and more structured activities, kids today are increasingly likely to play their chosen sport year-round. But more time on the field brings a greater risk of experiencing sports-related injuries.
Here are our top injury prevention tips to help keep your young athlete on the field and not sidelined:
Make sure your child understands that they should talk with you and seek help if experiencing a pain or something that just doesn’t feel right. Some young athletes don’t understand that pain shouldn’t be ignored or pushed through. Keep the dialog open. You can also observe any changes in gait or activity. Many young athletes will change up how they perform instead of admitting an injury.
A preseason or back-to-school physical is a great way to determine if your young athlete is fit to play. A physical can address any possible pre-existing conditions or diagnose the health of your child before the season starts.
Change it Up
Cross training is a great way to build new muscle and also give your body a break.. Change up your routine so the same muscles aren’t continuously taxed by the same activity. Throw in swimming, yoga or even walking to take a break during the sports season.
Stretching is an important prevention technique that should become habit for all athletes before starting an activity or sport. Both static and dynamic stretching during warmups to help loosen the muscles and prepare them for play. Toe touches and stretches, where you hold the position for a certain amount of time, are considered static, while jumping jacks and stretches, where the body continues to move during stretching, are considered dynamic.
Get your ZZZ’s
Athletes of all ages need to rest between practices, games and events. A lack of sleep and muscle fatigue predispose an athlete to injury. The most common injuries seen in young athletes are overuse injuries — too many sports and not enough rest. Along these same lines, parents should also plan an offseason for their athlete, giving him or her adequate time to recuperate before the next season.
Check your diet
It’s important for athletes to eat a well-balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, and to maintain a regular eating schedule. For instance, have breakfast, lunch and dinner around the same time each day. Also make sure in sports such as wrestling where maintaining a weight is required that your child is eating enough and has a healthy relationship with food.
Heat-related illness is a real concern for athletes, especially during hot and humid days. Parents should make sure their children have adequate water before, during and after play, and watch for any signs of a heat-related illness, including fatigue, nausea, vomiting, confusion or fainting.
Protective equipment, like helmets, pads and shoes, are very important for injury prevention. Parents should talk with coaches before the season starts so that they have adequate time to purchase the correct equipment. Improper fit of equipment or worn out shoes can create possibly injury and issues and should be replaced or repaired before the season starts.
Check in on how your child is feeling and performing. If you notice that there is a change in your child’s technique, such as a limp when running, throwing differently or rubbing a leg during activity, they should pull the athlete out of play. If the problems persists, seek an assessment for your child prior to returning to the activity.
When to see OSSM for your sports-related injury:
- Consistent pain during or after sports
- Persistent or new swelling around a joint
- Recurrent instability - joints "give way"
- Painful pops (nonpainful pops are OK)
- Pain that does not respond to a period of rest