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There are a variety of health benefits that come with participating in sports, so it should come as no shock that well over half of all kids over six years old compete in team athletics.
Playing as part of a group teaches a variety of valuable life lessons and social skills, including problem solving and communication. Not only that, but participation in these activities can also improve their grades and self-image. If a child is successful enough, becoming a professional athlete could very well be a rewarding career path.
Injuries and the Risks of Sports
The unfortunate truth is that any physical activity always comes with a chance for injury. With the proper equipment, training, and self-care habits, however, those chances can be greatly reduced.
Types of Injuries
There are many ways that an athlete may be injured. Some of the more common causes of injuries include fractures, knee injuries, sprains, dislocations, and swollen muscles. Repetitive use injuries, such as tennis elbow, are also quite prominent in certain sports as the motions they require increase the amount of stress your muscles take. Thankfully, these injuries are mostly preventable, provided your child is given the proper training to know how to stretch and exercise safely.
Those at Risk
Although the risk of injury is a threat to anyone who participates in athletics, some groups have a greater chance of injury than others. Largely inactive students who only play sports on the weekends and do little to no physical activity during the week have not conditioned their bodies enough to handle the levels of stress they place on their bodies.
Comparatively, highly competitive students that do not give their body time to heal in between games or practice are also at risk. It’s important for student athletes to branch out into more than one sport, as cross-training helps their body avoid repetition and lowers their risk of being injured.
Playing sports does not come without risk, and injuries are all too common among child athletes. Thankfully, there are several tips you can give your child to help them avoid sports injuries.
- Warmup. It’s important that your child prepares his or her muscles to perform at their maximum level. A proper warmup generally includes about 15-30 minutes of cardio and stretching to boost performance and reduce the risk of injury.
- Condition. During the summer or long breaks, your child might believe they don’t need to stay active. Staying conditioned not only keeps them prepared year-round, but helps to strengthen muscles for the stress sports puts on them.
- Stay hydrated. While physical injuries are a major concern, heat illnesses are also a risk while participating in athletics. Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after exercising greatly reduces the risk of heat-related illnesses.
- Use proper equipment. Protective gear such as helmets and pads should always be utilized, especially in high contact sports. Make sure these items fit your child, but also remind them that protective equipment does not make them completely safe.
- Recognize pain. If your child feels and pain, soreness, or discomfort, they should stop playing immediately until it can be remedied or treated by a doctor.Enforce rules. Risky behavior should be discouraged through the use of strict guidelines, such as no spearing for football or only sliding in feet first for baseball.
- Rest. While being active is important, your child’s should also give his or her body enough time to heal and recover by taking time off from sports at least one day a week and one month a year. In addition, regular breaks during games or practice can also help prevent injuries and illnesses.
Need Advice for an Injury?
Dr. Richard Kang is double board certified in anesthesiology and pain medicine, and he completed an interventional pain medicine fellowship at the prestigious New York Presbyterian Hospital / Columbia University – College of Physicians and Surgeons. Read his full bio here.