How to Help Your Kid Prevent Sports-Related Injuries - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on July 29, 2015

How to Help Your Kid Prevent Sports-Related Injuries

An increasing number of kids are getting
sports-related injuries, many of which can
affect them for the rest of their lives.
What can you do to help?

We’ll start with the good news first. The number of kids participating in athletic activities is on the rise, even in the face of the childhood obesity epidemic – about 30 million children are participating in youth sports.

However, it’s causing a new issue that may lead you to reconsider the amount of exercise your children gets—which brings us to the bad news. An increasing number of kids are getting sports-related injuries, many of which can cause physical issues that will affect them for the rest of their lives. High school athletes, for example, account for almost 2 million injuries and 30,000 hospitalizations every year. And since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says more than half of all sports injuries among children are preventable, it’s up to the parents to intervene and make sure their kids are playing safely.

Kids can get an athletic injury in two different ways: from a single, traumatic event, or from overusing their tendons, bones, and joints, which accounts for half of the injuries among middle and high school-aged athletes. But these injuries don’t only mean a one-time visit to the hospital—in many cases, they can also lead to further problems down the road.

As your growing athlete overworks his or her body in various sports, they also become more likely to experience problems with their growth plates, the soft cartilage at the end of their bones. Since many teens try to play through the pain of an injury, they end up further damaging their growth plates. As a result, the plates may not grow at all or cause it to grow at a different rate than another; a knee injury, for example, may inhibit the growth of that particular leg, resulting in the healthy leg growing longer than the injured one.

And if you thought arthritis and tennis elbow were chronic conditions that only someone your age could develop, think again. Active kids who don’t give their joints enough time to rest are also being diagnosed and treated for inflamed joints.

So, why are athletic injuries among adolescents more common than ever?

As you read earlier, a major factor is that most of these kids are still growing. Additionally, improper training and technique may also cause them to get hurt. Increasing the intensity, duration, and frequency of an activity too quickly are all ways in which an overuse injury, such as stress fractures, might occur. Many times, kids and even their parents may feel the need to constantly participate in competitive sports. However, not giving the body a chance to rest can result in overuse injuries—all of which are completely preventable.

What You Can Do to Help

As a parent, there’s plenty you can do to encourage your child to reduce his or her chances of getting a sports-related injury, such as:

Treat an Injury

Many kids would rather play through the pain than sit out of a game. Learn the warning signs of an injury in case your teen chooses to keep it a secret, and encourage him to limit the intensity, duration and frequency of the activity. Enforce the safety rules of the field when he’s practicing at home as well. For example, make sure your teen is doing the appropriate warm-up and cool-down exercises before and after the activity.

Go for a Pre-Participation Physical

Your child’s doctor can screen and treat any conditions and give further advice on how to prevent injury.

Learn Proper Training and Technique Tips

If your son loves basketball, ask his coach or trainer about the best techniques used to avoid injuries. You want to make sure both you and your son’s coach are encouraging these practices.

Get Proper Equipment

Your teen’s protective gear, such as masks, mouth guards, and running shoes, should be in good condition and fit properly. Perform weekly checks to make sure they haven’t sustained any significant wear and tear.

Encourage Cross-Training

Participating in a variety of different sports helps condition all areas of the body and give overused areas a break.

Encourage Breaks and Rest

Some kids may participate in sports all year round, which can increase their chances of getting an overuse injury. As a result, they should take off at least one season a year to recover.

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