All sports – whether competitive, recreational, seasonal or year-round – can pose a risk of an injury, especially when associated with a team sport or activity involving physical contact.
The most common sports injuries are sprains, strains and stress fractures caused by excessive pressure to the body. Here are some tips to prevent injuries and to promote an optimal sports experience for your child.
• Warm up, train and condition consistently. Make it a routine to warm up and stretch properly to maintain flexibility before starting activities. Stretch the muscles and allow at least 30 seconds in each stretching position. Once the muscles are properly stretched, warm up with jumping jacks, walking or running for about three to five minutes. If your child has not been consistently active, condition the body and train the muscle groups used for the particular sport as soon as possible.
• Wear proper gear. Each sport has unique clothing and equipment that can help your child reach his or her highest potential during physical activity and help prevent injuries. Wear appropriate attire such as shoes, pads for the neck, shoulder, elbow, chest, knee and shin, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups, eyewear and a helmet for your child's specific sport. Always remember to replace worn or old equipment, especially as your child grows.
• Strengthen and increase flexibility. Conditioning exercises during practice strengthen muscles used in play, and stretching exercises after games or practice can also increase flexibility. Remind your child to always cool down and stretch all the muscles used. Stretching after the end of physical exercise is just as important as stretching before.
• Take time to rest. Learn to recognize when the body is fatigued. Muscles that are fatigued lack the protective mechanisms in the body and increase risk for injuries. Rest and take a break, and use the time to hydrate the body with water. Try and plan at least one day off per week or alternate working various muscle groups on different days to allow proper rest. Depending on the sport, taking some time off from training can also help the body recover.
Injuries should be treated immediately and taken seriously. If an injury does not properly heal, the chances of a recurrent injury or chronic pain may occur. If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s injury, contact an orthopaedic physician.
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