Youngsters are particularly prone to sports-related injuries, but there are steps coaches and parents can take to keep young athletes healthy and active.
Children love playing sports, whether on organized teams or in neighborhood pickup games. In fact, more than 46 million children participate in sports each year, with most reaping the benefits of physical activity and teamwork. But with so many youngsters participating in these activities, there will inevitably be some injuries. In fact, one in three children playing team sports faces an injury serious enough to be benched. But most injuries are preventable, and knowledge is key to prevention.
Benefits of Participating in Sports
In addition to keeping kids in shape, sports also improve coordination, self-esteem, and discipline. Team sports also promote teamwork, a valuable skill not always learned in the classroom, and cooperation with others. And while losing isn’t easy, it’s important for kids to learn how to accept defeat and try again. Many children become close friends with their teammates and learn valuable social and communication skills.
For most youngsters, the benefits of sports far outweigh the risks, but children are still growing, and injuries can impact them more than they would an adult. Muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones are rather susceptible to injury, and sudden trauma like twists, falls, or collisions can lead to more than just a bruised knee; sports medicine physicians often see injuries like strains and sprains, broken bones, and growth plate injuries that affect bone growth. Overuse can also cause injuries when kids practice too long or too hard without adequate rest in between exercise sessions.
Preventing Sports Injuries
There are a number of steps parents and coaches can take to ensure kids remain safe on the field or court. The first is proper age-appropriate physical conditioning and training to ensure children are in good shape before joining the team. This conditioning should also incorporate stretching techniques and adequate warm-up exercises for their particular sport. Protective gear is also a must, and kids should be given a lesson in how to properly use or adjust helmets, padding, mouthpieces, protective eyewear, and other safety equipment.
Too often young athletes are playing only one sport all year long without the potential for rest or recovery. Sports medicine specialists now understand that this is not a healthy strategy. In fact, young athletes who play or perform a single sport greater than eight months out of the year are at a significantly increased risk of experiencing an injury compared to the other youths who participate in different sports. Playing only one sport may overload developing structures causing overuse injuries.
Creating a Supportive Atmosphere
Children can also feel pressure to win, so it’s vital to their emotional health that parents and coaches foster a supportive atmosphere, emphasizing teamwork and sportsmanship over winning. When children are properly cared for physically and emotionally by their coaches, they’re a lot less likely to face severe injury and stress.
If your child has been experiencing pain during sports or other concerning symptoms, call Sarasota Orthopedic Associates at 941-951-2663 to schedule an appointment. You may also schedule an appointment through our website. Our commitment is to get our patients back on their feet, back to work, back in the game, and back to life.