Keeping children and teens active in sports and other activities rather than having their eyes glued to a screen is something that all parents and guardians should strive to do. But what happens when those activities cause injuries? Traditional sport season are growing longer, and kids today are striving to excel in multiple events. Football gives way to basketball season and is often followed by baseball, soccer and even golf. With back-to-back seasons, healthcare providers are seeing more injuries and a starling trend has emerged – recurrent injuries due to not taking the time to properly heal. What can you do to keep your child safe from recurring sports injuries?
Before your child engages in any organized sport, it is important that they have an annual sports exam. This is a different type of exam as opposed to a regular check-up. A sports exam will include specific questions related to your child and the sport in which they wish to participate. Starting off healthy is the number one way to prevent recurring injuries.
Sports can be physically demanding, with fierce competition. Proper preparation should start before the season commences. Alongside the sports exam, ensure your child remains active with at least one hour of exercise daily. It is also essential to avoid overtraining by allowing your child to have at least one day off per week for rest and proper recovery of their bodies.
Pay attention to safety
To prioritize safety in sports, it is crucial to understand and provide the appropriate protective gear for your child, regardless of whether they are new to the sport or experienced. Educate yourself and your child about the rules of the game to ensure their safety. Emphasize the importance of obeying these rules, as it enables them to continue playing in the long term. Remember that safety gear varies across sports, including helmets, pads, mouth guards and tape, all aimed at protecting your child and their ability to participate.
The game before the game
While your child may see it as a hassle, proper stretching and other preparations are essential in keeping your child safe during game play. This can be anything from light stretches to a slow jog. Warming up the body can help prevent muscle tears and strains while also helping to prevent injuries. Win or lose, the cool down process is just as important. A few light stretches after a hard-fought game can make the difference in whether or not they are ready to suit up for the next match.
It’s hard enough to get kids to eat healthy and balanced meals, but it is essential that your child has the proper nutrition to give them the fuel they need to play sports. Lean healthy proteins, vegetables, fruit and fiber should make up a significant portion of their daily meals. Don’t forget the water either! Hydration is vital all year and not just during the hot summer months. While they may seem appealing, try to stay away from sports drinks that are packed with excess sugar. They can be helpful in replacing lost potassium and sodium but limit the consumption to one per day.
Teach kids to listen
It's crucial for children to learn how to listen to their bodies. They should understand that "playing through the pain" is the opposite of what they should do when injured. Some children may attempt to hide their injuries to stay in the game. Pain is the body's signal to stop and should be taken seriously. Ensure your child knows and comprehends that ignoring pain can have permanent consequences, potentially removing them from the game entirely.
Recovery from injury
f your child does become injured through sports, seek treatment immediately. Playing while injured can do irreparable damage and eliminate the possibility of ever getting back to the game. Emphasize that recovery is just as important as competing. They will be anxious to get back on the field or to the court, but their bodies are still developing. Without the proper rest and recovery period, not only will they not be able to return to competition, but they could also face life-long consequences.
Following the healthcare providers direction is essential, especially when it comes to physical therapy if it is warranted. While a child may feel better and look healed, if physical therapy has been mandated by your provider, make sure to follow through with every session. Getting back in the game too soon is the number one factor in recurring sports injuries.