Playing sports can be a great way for kids to stay healthy and active; however, sports also put kids at a higher risk of injury. The following are some tips to help athletic kids stay safe and sound.
1. Get A Sports Physical Before The Season Starts
The purpose of a sports physical is to ensure that it’s safe for a child or teen to play a particular sport. The exam will involve questions about the child’s medical history, including past injuries or hospitalizations, asthma and allergies, and current medications. The physical part of the exam will likely include a blood pressure check, height and weight measurements, and an examination of joints and flexibility. A doctor may also discuss issues such as performance-enhancing drugs or eating disorders, which can be a problem for some young athletes.
2. Focus On Proper Techniques
Athletes can often avoid injuries if they learn proper techniques for movement on the field. For example, runners who have knock-knees can benefit from training to improve their gait and minimize the risk of knee injuries. In tennis and swimming, proper form can help athletes avoid shoulder injuries.
3. Stay Hydrated On The Field
Dehydration is a serious risk for athletes who play outdoors in hot weather. The loss of bodily fluids and electrolytes through sweat can cause muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, and even some cognitive impairment. Young athletes should drink water every 15 to 20 minutes. For kids who exercise vigorously, a sports beverage that contains electrolytes can be helpful, but it’s important to avoid drinks that contain caffeine and sugar.
4. Get Plenty Of Rest
Many sports injuries in young athletes are due to overuse of certain muscles. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that kids get plenty of rest between games and practices. It’s also a good idea to stick to only one sport so that the athlete can benefit from taking time off during the off-season.
5. Use Safety Equipment At All Times
When safety equipment is available, it should be used at all times: in games, in practice, and even in casual play. There is a no more important piece of safety equipment than the helmet. Football players, hockey players, cyclists, and skateboarders need helmets to protect themselves from serious head injuries, which can lead to permanent disability or even death.
6. Recognize The Signs Of A Serious Injury
If a young athlete demonstrates any symptoms of an injury, it’s important to evaluate those symptoms right away. Pain, swelling, and stiffness are signs that a bone or joint may be seriously injured. Any loss of consciousness, dizziness, or confusion should also be addressed immediately, as those symptoms can be signs of a brain injury. According to Frekhtman & Associates, mild traumatic brain injuries can have serious consequences, yet they are often ignored or misdiagnosed.
These tips can decrease a young athlete’s risk of getting a sports injury, but they don’t provide a 100% guarantee. If an injury happens, getting the proper treatment right away can often make a big difference in the healing process. Some athletes believe that it’s important to push through the pain, so parents and coaches should talk with young athletes and encourage them to report pain and other symptoms without fear of criticism.