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, it also 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.
Ways to Minimize Risk of Injuries
- Choose sports that are sponsored by your child’s school, community center, or other club. This ensures 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. Properly maintained shoes, pads, mouth guards, gender specific clothing, and protective eye wear is the first line of defense.
- Practice safe. The majority of sports related injuries occur during practice. Make sure there is adequate warm-up and cool-down time. This includes activities that are low intensity and slowly increase. Ensure that your child has access to water. Also make sure he or she is allowed to rest if needed, and wears sunscreen 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. These skills are 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.