Minimize Your Child’s Risk For Sports Related Injuries
School sports season is now underway. This is an exciting time for the millions of children who are beginning or returning to a sport. Unfortunately, along the way it brings the potential for injuries. As many as 20% of children who participate in sports activities will be injured each year. As a parent, there are things you can do to help minimize the occurrence of injuries in your kids.
- Choose sports that are sponsored by your child’s school, community center, or other club to ensure supervision by qualified adults.
- Choose sports based on the skills, size, and maturity level of your child. He or she should be able to understand the rules and recognize potential risks. A child who is much smaller than his peers has a greater chance of injury playing a sport like pee-wee football versus tee ball. A child who is unable to consistently catch a ball is more likely to get hit by a ball while playing baseball or basketball.
- Choose gear that is sport specific and appropriate: shoes, pads, mouth guards, gender specific clothing, and protective eyewear that have been properly maintained will be the first line of defense.
- Practice safe. The majority of sports related injuries occur during practice. Make sure there is adequate warm-up time (low intensity activities that slowly increase) and cool-down time. Ensure that your child has access to water, is allowed to rest if needed, and wears sunscreen if outside.
- Prepare your child. Make sure he or she is healthy, in shape, flexible, and strong. Encourage your child to play outdoors, on playgrounds, and with friends. Practice sports skills with your child before he or she starts playing. Relay races, throwing, catching, dribbling, shooting baskets, and obstacle courses can improve coordination, speed, and reaction time; skills essential to success. Activities like hula hooping and jumping rope can improve strength, coordination, and endurance. Try yoga that is designed specifically for kids to improve flexibility.
- Finally, if your child does sustain an injury, proper medical attention and rehabilitation can decrease the risk of recurring injuries or development of a chronic condition. A physical therapist can develop a program specific to your child’s needs.