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Sports Injury Prevention for Kids
Tips to Minimize the Risk of Injury
Sports provide a great platform for many kids to get exercise, feel good, and experience a little healthy competition. In today’s world, more kids than ever before are competing in sports starting at an early age. Kids are running faster, jumping higher and ultimately pushing themselves harder – but at what expense?
Most commonly, problems related to sports in young athletes are due to overuse and the most frequent types of sports injuries are sprains, strains and stress fractures, and sometimes concussions. Luckily, there are things you can encourage your child to do to minimize the risk of injury!
1.) Take time off – Much like adults need rest from the gym, kids need rest from sports, too. Encourage your child to take at least one day off per week and at least one month off per year from training. This time allows the body to recover and heal.
2.) Make sure their gear is right – Unfortunately, while protective gear can prevent injuries, it isn’t a guarantee. That being said, children should absolutely be geared up properly with well-fitting protective equipment like pads, helmets, mouthpieces and eyewear. This is not a situation where “less is more;” if a piece of equipment is optional but could potentially prevent injury, encourage your child to wear it!
3.) Stretch – Research has shown that kids ages 8-18 do not stretch before and/or after engaging in athletic activity. Remind your child about the importance of stretching, and explain that it strengthens and conditions the muscles and gets them in prime condition for optimal performance.
4.) Take breaks – similar to number one on this list, but different. Make sure your child is resting during practice and games to reduce injuries and overheating.
5.) Do not ignore pain – If something hurts, make your child stop until fully assessed by a doctor.
All sports have a risk of injury, but luckily, for most kids, the benefit of sports participation far outweighs the risks. If your child has been injured, working with a pediatric physical therapist can be extremely beneficial.
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