With plenty of team sports and structured physical activities to choose from, kids and adults today have the option to play their favorite sports all year. Increasingly more time on the field means there’s an even greater need for athletic injury prevention. Common sports related injuries include damage to the knee (meniscus and ACL injuries), as well as the shoulder and elbow (UCL or labrum injuries).
Tips for Preventing Sports Injuries
Experts suggest considering the following ways to avoid sports injuries, to help both young and older athletes stay on the field, instead of being escorted to the sidelines.
- Cross-Train and Participate in a Variety of Sports: Encourage kids to switch sports with the seasons or change activities to avoid childhood sports injuries. All athletes should change their routine so they don’t overstress the same joints and muscles for long stretches. A varied routine will help keep the whole body strong, and ensure that the same muscle groups are not continuously stressed.
- It is Important to Warm Up: Stretching is an important part of any workout routine or sports-related activity. All players should execute a combination of dynamic and static stretches before playing sports, during warmups and after the game. Stretching loosens tight muscles and makes them more pliable and ready to do some work.
- Rejuvenate with Proper Rest: Children, teens, and adults all need rest between workouts, practices and games. Without quality sleep and recovery time, fatigued muscles are susceptible to sports related injuries. In fact, the most common childhood sports injuries are the result of overuse. Kids are involved in too many sports and they don’t get enough time to recuperate.
- Eat a Balanced, Healthy Diet: Athletes need balanced nutrition—quality fuel—and a regular meal schedule to keep them performing strongly while staying healthy. Have lots of vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and fruits eaten at about the same time every day.
- Remain Properly Hydrated: During hot and humid weather, heat stroke is a serious concern for athletes. But, you can become overheated and dehydrated at any time of year. Drink an adequate amount of water prior to playing, during games and practices, and afterward. Watch for signs of heat stroke or dehydration, such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, fainting or confusion.
- Wear Protective Gear: The best way to prevent sports injuries on the field is by always wearing a mouth guard, helmet, protective pads and the proper footwear. Athletes should have all the necessary props before the playing season begins.
- Don’t Ignore an Injury: So many young kids and adults get hurt in action but do nothing about it until the problem worsens. Sports related injuries need to be examined by a physician immediately, to help prevent further damage.
If a parent notices a change in a child athlete’s gait, or playing technique, such as running more slowly, or favoring one side over the other, walking or running with a limp, or a difference in the way he or she throws a ball, take your child out of the game and address the issue. A person in pain can alter how they perform, but a serious long-term injury may still result.