Stay in the game with these 10 sports safety tips for kids ... and adults!
It’s not hard to find stories about frightening sports injuries in kids. Torn ACLs, concussions, and broken bones abound, and it’s impossible to keep track of the number of sprains, strains, and bruises. Some of these stories make it easy to rethink the idea of letting kids play sports. However, there are numerous benefits to both team and individual sports.
The right sports safety tips can go a long way in helping kids (and adults) enjoy their favorite activities without taking unnecessary risks. And there are risks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) point out that “injuries from organized and unorganized sports account for 775,000 emergency room visits annually” for children between the ages of 5 and 14. And for children between the ages of 12 and 17, “sports-related injuries are the leading cause of emergency room visits.”
It’s not just football, either. According to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, while 28% of young athletes were injured playing football, a close 25% sustained injuries while playing baseball, 22% while playing soccer, and another 15% suffered injuries while playing basketball.
John Hopkins Medicine notes that it’s not just team sports that lead to injuries. Approximately 65,000 children go to the emergency room each year for trampoline-related injuries, and skateboarding accidents send 66,000 children to the ER each year.
Despite these risks, participating in sports can lead children into a healthy lifestyle that they’ll be more inclined to retain as they get older. Exercise is a natural stress reliever, and multiple studies have shown that active children perform better on academic tests. There is also some evidence that participating in sports can help kids make healthier lifestyle decisions, such as not smoking or adopting a healthy diet.
Finding the balance is an important part of reducing risks while gaining the benefits. Finding the right sports safety tips are the key to that balance.
10 Sports Safety Tips
to keep your kids in the game
1. Stay active
The human body isn’t designed to go from couch potato to running a 5K without training or regular activity. Kids don’t need to lift weights or run marathons to stay in shape, but regular exercise can help prevent strains and overuse injuries.
2. Stay hydrated
According to the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, getting overheated is a significant problem for young athletes. They recommend drinking 16 ounces of water or sports drink one hour before practice and another four to eight ounces every twenty minutes during practices.
3. Get a physical
See your pediatrician to get a physical exam and talk about sports participation. Running track will impact their bodies differently than swimming, for instance.
4. Warm up
Warming up before practices and games gets blood flowing, loosens muscles, and lubricates joints to get your athlete ready for action.
5. Play more than one sport
Playing different sports at different times can help kids prevent overuse injuries, says Dr. Michael Kelly of the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. "It used to be that you played football and, when that was done, you might play basketball, and then later, you might play Little League or tennis. You went from sport to sport and didn't have any sport-specific training to contribute to repetitive injuries.”
6. Eat healthy
Kids can seem to metabolize as much ice cream as you can put in front of them, but a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables will give them the nutrients they need to build healthy bones and muscles.
7. Use the right equipment
Injuries don’t just happen during competitive games; they occur at practices, too. Properly fitted protective equipment, such as helmets, pads, and even shoes are important for helping prevent injuries.
8. Don’t play through pain
There is a big difference between discomfort and pain. Teach your child that it’s ok to come off the field or talk to you if they are in pain. Continuing to compete with an injury can have long-term effects on your child’s health and well-being.
Even professional athletes have rest periods. A tired, overworked athlete is more prone to injury and poor performances.
10. Know the signs of a concussion
This is, unfortunately, a much more common sports injury than we often realize. Football gets a lot of the press on this, but concussions happen in almost any sport, from soccer to skiing to cheerleading to baseball to basketball. Concussions are dangerous and can impact your child’s behavior and ability to learn. The signs and symptoms of a concussion include:
- Light sensitivity
- Poor balance
- Slow or slurred speech
- Mood changes
- Blurry vision
If your child gets hit or takes a fall, keep a close eye on them. A concussion requires a trip to the pediatrician since failure to properly treat a concussion could exacerbate and prolong the problem. Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children also points out that it’s an immediate emergency if “your child’s level of alertness changes, if they’re disoriented, vomiting or they have severe neck pain or a terrible headache that won’t go away.”
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