Playing sports can be a wonderful experience for kids, but in the back of every parent’s mind is always the thought, “but what if my child gets hurt?”
Statistically speaking, parent’s fears are not unfounded. Last year there were nearly 2 million sports-related injuries treated in U.S. emergency rooms and doctors offices—and that’s just the tally for three fall sports (football, soccer and volleyball).
As a parent, do you take the “no guts, no glory” attitude and hope for the best? Or do you just cover your eyes when your son gets steam-rolled by a burly middle linebacker twice his size?
Fortunately, there are a few steps that parents and young athletes can take to minimize the risk of injury. The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and the STOP Sports Injuries campaign offer the following tips:
- Have a pre-season physical examination and follow your doctor's recommendations.
- Always wear the appropriate protective gear, such as helmets, mouth guards, pads or fitted cleats.
- Take time to warm up and cool down properly with low-impact exercises that gradually increase or slow heart rate.
- Make sure to do strength training and stretching.
- Never play through the pain. If you have an injury, seek medical help.
- Check the weather report in order to avoid heat illness or wet, slippery conditions that can lead to injuries.
- Drink enough to stay hydrated. If you wait until you're thirsty, it may be too late to hydrate properly.
- Don't overtrain. If you develop pain or discomfort, decrease your training time and intensity. This will lower your risk of injury and help you avoid burnout.
- Minimize overuse injuries by playing multiple positions and different sports during the off-season.
With any luck, you’ll enjoy the fall sports season with little more than a few bumps and bruises.