INJURY PREVENTION from the EXPERTS
Kids and sports go hand-in-hand: individual athletic activities and team sports keep kids active, teach discipline and sportsmanship while safely helping them explore and test their mental and physical limits. However, as kids are still developing coordination and motor skills during their early years, there remains the possibility of injury as a result of play.
Tips for General Injury Prevention
Dynamic, Functional, Low-Intensity Warm Ups
This style of warm up utilizes compound movements (using more than one body part at a time) in a movement-based fashion. An appropriate child-minded warm up can include marching on the spot, walking lunges and hip bridges.
To build strength that can limit the likelihood of injury, primarily working the entire core region will help to develop power, strength, and agility. Also, different sports will require different demands of its athletes: soccer and football players will work to develop a lean and strong lower-body with leg and glute-focused exercises, and baseball and tennis players will want to focus on upper-body development with the shoulders and arms.
Proper Equipment & Training
It should go without saying, kids need their own dedicated equipment, perfectly sized for them! When returning to sport the following year, replace skates and shoes for growing feet and don’t try to see if they can make it through the season with ill-fitting gear that can compromise proper form and function.
Coaches and supervising adults should also ensure that kids have a solid understanding of the game they’re about to play and what kind of interaction can be expected – is it a contact sport? Dodgeball can only be aimed below the waist? Full knowledge will prepare kids for their sport of choice and help prevent accidents.
Appropriate Playing Surfaces
Avoid slips-and-trips injuries with the right ground/flooring. Grass-based sports may require cleats to prevent sliding, rubber flooring provides great shock absorption for games where kids are prone to falling and of course all surfaces should be free of damage (i.e. spaces between floorboards).
Overuse and Re-Injury
For kids who’ll be committed to a sport for a full season, the risk of overuse injuries and repetitive injury becomes more prevalent. Parents can take the following measures to keep their child’s safety at the forefront.
LISTEN to Kids
It’s easy to dismiss kids when they communicate with us, brushing their comments off, but please do keep a keen ear for any complaints of pain, especially when the same region of the body is of constant concern. Play it safe rather than sorry and take kids to see the doctor for an exam or x-ray as required to prevent overuse injuries from turning into chronic problems.
As much as both you and your child will not want to refrain from activity, this simply is a must sometimes to limit stress on the body. A doctor or sports practitioner may recommend temporarily ceasing the activity as it may not be possible to return to sport without risking further injury.
Allow for Proper Healing
As alluded to above, overuse can lead to re-injury with a budding athlete returns to the game without allowing an injury to fully and completely heal properly. A full recovery is key, so don’t be quick to rush through the healing process. Once a medical or sports practitioner has issued the green light, re-enter the sport with ease and caution.