Of course, parents want their kids to be healthy and active, but with that comes the risk of sustaining a sports-related injury, such as ACL and meniscus injuries in the knee or injuries to the labrum or UCL in the shoulder and elbow. Sure, these injuries can be prevented by staying off the field, but to keep those kids having fun, here are some tips on how to stay safe.
Talk to the Young Athlete.
Make sure that your child knows that it is important to speak up if he or she is experiencing any pain or something that just doesn’t feel right. Some kids can be more sensitive than others, and there are those that will simply play through the pain, which can be dangerous. All kids should be taught to let someone know if they feel that anything is physically wrong.
Get a Preseason Physical.
It can be easier to sustain an injury if your young athlete has physical problems before they even get on the field. Getting a physical before the start of the season can identify any existing areas of concern, which can then be treated to prevent future injuries.
Encourage Cross-Training and a Variety of Sports.
It’s great if your child loves soccer or basketball, but try to discourage joining too many of the same sports team. Practicing too much of the same sport can put stress on the same muscles and joints, which can lead to injury. Encourage trying a variety of sports or exercises and change up the routine so that the same muscles are not overused.
Stress the Importance of Warming Up.
To go along with the previous tip, muscles should be cared for by stretching them first to prepare them for activity. A combination of static and dynamic stretches should be used to loosen the muscles and minimize straining them.
Make Sure They Rest.
It is important not only to give the muscles a rest in between periods of activity (such as practice and games) but also to get enough sleep regularly. As eager as children can be to keep going, it’s important that they take a break to avoid overusing the muscles. Parents should also plan an off-season to give their athletes time to recuperate and prepare for the next season.