The occurrence of children’s sports-related injuries has dramatically increased in the last decade. More than 3.5 million children, ages 14 and under, receive treatment for sports-related injuries.
Getting your child involved in a sport can be great for his or her self-confidence, while improving health and just plain having fun. But, by helping them avoid injury, they’ll enjoy the game more, stay in the game more, and keep training on track!
Children are more susceptible to sports-related injuries for these reasons:
- Their bodies are still growing
- Their coordination and reaction time are sometimes unpredictable
- They mature at different rates
- Children may take unnecessary risks
Alas, injuries will happen, but they can be kept to a minimum if parents have a plan to teach their children how to avoid them. Here are several easy tips for parents’ use to guide their children in preventing sports-related injuries:
Injury prevention tip #1
Get proper nutrition. Children should eat a low-carbohydrate, high-protein breakfast. Pack high nutrition snacks in the backpack, like apples, bananas, whole wheat crackers, peanut butter sandwich, or oatmeal cookies, for when hunger strikes.
Injury prevention tip #2
Stay hydrated. Since the body, muscles, tendons and ligaments are made up of at least 70% water, then does it really make sense to drink soda? No! Juices and energy drinks don’t add to your body’s water content. Drink a glass of cool clear water with each meal. Guzzle at least a glass before working out, and at least one or two glasses afterwards. This helps prevent muscle cramping, and carries out the many chemical processes that a healthy body requires.
Injury prevention tip #3
Warm up, stretch. Muscles should be warmed up with light stretching. Don’t bounce or pull the muscle until it hurts. Stretching brings blood into the muscle and actually lengthens the muscle. So, as muscles are used in sports play, they contract like they’re supposed to. Warming up with stretches prevents strains, and sprains. By the way, stretching after a workout eliminates a lot of soreness, helps the muscle heal and repair itself.
Injury prevention tip #4
Don’t overuse. Avoid injuries from overusing the same muscles, by playing different sports. On the day off from practice, play a different game for fun. Or ride bikes, skateboards or skate. Using different muscle groups makes a young athlete’s body stronger overall.
Injury prevention tip #5
Take rest days. Even major-leaguers and professional athletes vary their workouts and take time off to rest. Children should never be allowed to play, or coaxed into playing, when they have pain. If a muscle hurts, it needs heat, stretching and rest. Children set themselves up for even more serious injuries, when they play sore or in pain. Forget that “no pain, no gain” stuff. They will stay in the game longer, if you as parents teach them the basics of avoiding sports-related injuries.
Written by: Ruby Holder Moseley, FizzNiche Staff Writer