Participation in sports offers tremendous social, emotional, and physical benefits for children. We know that one of the worst things for kids is being on the sidelines with an injury. As parents and coaches, there are simple things we can do to help reduce preventable injuries – so our kids can continue playing the games they love.
While there are amazing benefits to having children participate in sports, it is definitely critical to prepare children properly. The risk of injury can be greatly reduced, by educating ourselves and our children how to treat their bodies when playing sports, and what we need to be on the look for as parents and coaches.
Prior to your kiddos hitting the field, be sure to bring them into their physician for a sports physical. Doing this can help detect any concerns that may cause more serious conditions if proper precautions aren’t taken.
If there are any health conditions that a coach needs to be aware of, such as asthma, be sure the coach is made aware before the first practice or game.
Whether there are health concerns or not, it is a good practice to give the coach your emergency contact information in case any other sports related injuries occur.
This is something many players and coaches skip. Before exerting their bodies, children should do a light warm up, and then stretch out. Doing this can prevent serious injuries due to muscle tension.
It is advisable for coaches to oversee this, and can help to have a set warm up and dynamic stretching routine. This way children develop a habit of warm ups and stretching, and know that it is an essential activity before participating in sports!
While it is important to always stay hydrated, particularly in the Summer months, it is especially important when participating in sports and recreational activities.
Encourage kids to drink water to rehydrate 30 minutes before playing sports. Not only can your body become more easily exhausted if you’re not hydrated, but it increases the chances of muscle injuries.
During games and practices, coaches should incorporate water breaks in order for children to stay hydrated and reduce the risk of sport injuries. Whether it is practices or games, players should be rehydrating every 20 minutes during physical exercise. Be sure they are taking more than just a sip or two. To properly rehydrate an 88 pound child should be drinking 5 ounces every 20 minutes, and an older child around 135 pounds, should be drinking 9 ounces every 20 minutes.
If kids are unsure if they have been drinking enough water, you can teach them that their urine should be either clear, or only slightly yellow (like lemonade).
If at any point a player feels light-headed, dizzy, or nauseous in the heat, they should be moved to a shaded area. Then make sure any unnecessary equipment is removed, and give them cold water. If symptoms do not dissipate, seek medical attention.
Instilling a strong communication triangle between player, parent, and coach is vital to helping maintain a player’s health. It will also help in preventing both mild and serious injuries alike.
Sometimes, in fear of not being able to continue to play in a game, kids will not communicate to parents or coaches if they are not feeling well. This is also true when they believe they may have injured themselves. Make sure to have a conversation with your children with the importance of speaking up when they are not feeling well.
Making sure your child wears proper safety equipment can prevent serious injuries. Just wearing equipment isn’t enough. You need to make sure things such as helmets are also fitted correctly. If you’re playing baseball and a helmet falls off while running it will not do much good in preventing an injury.
A common misunderstanding is that a child will be knocked unconscious if they have suffered a concussion. This is not always the case. It is fairly common for a child to “brush it off” and keep playing because they don’t realize the severity of their injuries.
Coaches and parents should participate in learning CPR and First AId so they can recognize these types of sports injuries. A child should not continue to play if it is believed they may have suffered from a concussion, and should seek medical attention. If it is unclear if the player has suffered a concussion, it is best to not put them back in the game until they are cleared by a medical professional.
A Little R&R Goes a Long Way!
As players get older, it can be hard to make sure they are getting the rest they need. Making sure all their muscles are developing evenly can become a concern as well; particularly if they are playing the same sport year-round.
Players should be getting at least one to two days of rest each week. This gives their bodies the required time to recover before exerting muscles again.
It is also a good idea to have kids participate in different sports during different seasons; rather than playing the same sport all year around. Not only does this ensure well-rounded muscle development, but it also make kids well-rounded athletes!
Of course, whether you are an athlete or not, we always recommend regular chiropractic care. However, it is especially important for our pint size (and larger) athletes to receive regular chiropractic care. A chiropractor can ensure any minor traumas to the spine and body are corrected before they become more serious problems or injuries down the line.