Back to school means getting your kids back into organized sports. As your kids dig out their cleats, helmets, and jerseys, sports injury prevention should be top of mind for all parents. Kate Grant, DO, for Rochester Regional Health Sports Medicine gives her top tips for preventing sports injuries!
Encourage your child to begin conditioning now so their bodies aren’t beginning the new season totally cold as they head back to school. A slow jog or bike ride is a good way to get their muscles moving again at a controlled pace and increase the chance of preventing sports injuries. If they’ve been sedentary all summer or their activities haven’t been controlled, a run, swim, bike ride, or any other cardio will help get their bodies ready.
Make sure your kids are well hydrated at practice. That also includes staying hydrated in the days leading up to practice. Encourage them to drink the day and night before so their bodies have a good bank of water to use before they sweat.
Sports physicals are often mandatory for schools or sports teams before kids go back to school. They also give parents, coaches, and kids the information they need about their bodies ahead of a new season so they can act accordingly. By skipping your kids’ physical, you may miss out on detecting an issue or injury that can worsen with the wrong type of activity. A physical is also a great time to ask your doctor important questions about sports injury prevention before they begin playing sports again.
You’re not going to prevent every sports injury, but you do want to give your kids the best tools going forward, like conditioning beforehand, warming up and cooling down, stretching, and making sure they have proper sports equipment like good-fitting sneakers, helmets, shin guards, and mouth guards etc... When your kids try on new equipment, press them about how the equipment fits and feels. Cleats that are too small can cause serious blisters; shoulder pads that are too big can result in sprains, fractures and breaks.
We’re seeing more and more kids at a much younger age have sports injuries resulting from overuse. That’s because a lot of kids are specializing in just one sport that can overwork a certain part of the body like a pitcher’s arm or a soccer player’s feet and legs. Kids should take a couple of months off from any sport in between seasons. I always encourage parents to let their kids play a couple of different sports and not just one to minimize the strain on one particular muscle. No kid wants to go back to school only to suffer a sports injury shortly after.
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