6 Tips For Preventing Injuries In Your Young Athlete
January 13, 2023
Youth sports are an excellent way for your child to get outdoors, learn about teamwork, stay active, and meet new friends. Even with such great benefits, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sports injuries, such as pulled muscles and concussions, send more than 2.6 million children to emergency rooms every year. However, this should not deter you from letting your child participate in the fun. Rather, you should educate yourself on the best ways of preventing injuries in your young athlete.
Preventing Sports-Related Injuries
The benefits of sports in a child’s development are plenty. Activities such as soccer, basketball, track and field, baseball, swimming, and others increase cardiovascular fitness, help grow bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons, and improve coordination and balance. Here at Holly Springs Pediatrics, we’re here to help you learn tips and tricks for preventing injuries in your young athlete.
Get A Pre-Season Physical
A pre-season physical is the first step to preventing injuries and happens before your child ever steps on the field, court, or track. This physical helps to identify health problems that may interfere with your child’s participation. During a sports physical, your doctor will normally:
- Record your child’s height and weight
- Take your child’s blood pressure and pulse
- Test your child’s vision
- Check your child’s heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, nose, and throat
- Evaluate your child’s posture, joints, strength, and flexibility
In most cases, your child will need a pre-season physical to participate in their sport. However, if one is not required, it is highly recommended that your child sees a healthcare provider to ensure there are no underlying conditions.
Getting sufficient rest is important for anyone, but a child in sports may be among the group who needs it the most! According to the CDC, toddlers (1-2 years old) need 11-14 hours per 24 hours (including naps), preschoolers (3-5 years old) need 10-13 hours per 24 hours (including naps), school-age children (6-12 years old) need 9-12 hours per 24 hours, and teens (13-18 years old) need 8-10 hours per 24 hours. To prevent injuries in your child, make sure they are getting the recommended amount of sleep.
Ensure A Well-Balanced Diet
Sometimes, it may seem like your child is growing an inch per day! Between growth spurts and the extra calories burned from sports, ensuring your child is eating a well-balanced and healthy diet is essential. For a nutritious diet, do your best to include:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Milk and dairy products
Along with a healthy diet, make sure your child is eating throughout the day and fueling themselves post-practice. Improper diet when your child’s body demands a lot of energy can sometimes lead to long-term injuries.
Emphasize The Importance Of Hydration
For preventing injuries in your young athlete, it is essential to emphasize the importance of hydration. Not only can being dehydrated lead to orthopedic injuries, but it can also lead to decreased performance and, in some cases, heat exhaustion. Make sure your child is adequately hydrated before, during, and after sports practices.
Wear Appropriate Protective Gear
Some sports, even at the youth level, can get pretty physical. Sports like football, basketball, and soccer often require specific equipment. For example, football players need helmets, knee pads, shoulder pads, mouthguards, cleats, etc. Ensure the equipment your child wears fits appropriately, as this is an important part of injury prevention.
Explain The Benefits Of Stretching
Stretching is often overlooked when it comes to sports. However, warming up has several benefits and has been shown to reduce injuries in athletes. Have a conversation with your child about the benefits of warming up and the difference between dynamic stretching and static stretching. Some great warm-up stretches include high knees, jumping jacks, body weight squats, lunges, Frankensteins, toe touches, quad pulls, cat/cow, and cobra.
Playing sports as a kid has several benefits. Yet it is important to learn ways to ensure your child stays on the field instead of the sidelines. Holly Springs Pediatrics is committed to providing quality care to your kids at all times on a wide array of subjects. Do you have more questions on preventing injuries in your young athlete? Call our Holly Springs, NC pediatric office at (919) 249-4700 to schedule an appointment or talk to a staff member.