Millions of kids in America play some kind of organized sport. Did you know that sports injure more teens each year than anything else? And kids between the ages of 5 and 14 make up almost half of the sports injuries that send people to the emergency room.
Why do kids get hurt playing sports?
Children’s bodies are not ready for the level of activity many sports demand. Sometimes, they can’t master the “right” way to catch a ball or do a dive. Doing those things the wrong way is even more dangerous.
Kids are also more likely to have equipment that doesn’t fit quite right and less likely to notice overuse injuries than adult athletes are. Finally, pressure from parents, coaches and other kids can lead young athletes to push themselves harder than their bodies can handle.
How to protect young athletes.
Work closely with your child’s doctors and coaches to keep your child healthy and safe.
Get a doctor’s okay. Before the season starts, take your child for a checkup to screen for any health problems.
Warm up. If you run late to a game, your child might miss the team’s warm-up. But stretching and slowly raising the heart rate is important. Jogging in place, along with gentle stretches held for 10 to 12 seconds, will get muscles ready for a work out.
Learn the right way. Help your child learn what the coaches teach. Doing things the right way puts less stress on the body.
Build up slowly. Don’t let your child increase his or her pace, miles, weight or any other training activity by more than 10% each week.
Get the right equipment — and use it! Equipment that’s worn out or doesn’t t right puts your child at risk for injuries. And think about this: More injuries happen at practice than during games.
Take water breaks. Take breaks at least every 30 minutes — more often if it’s hot or kids are very active.
Cool down. Stretching and slowing down will help kids’ heart rates gradually go back to normal.
Get some rest. Kids who play sports all year long are more likely to get hurt because their bodies don’t get a chance to rest. Have your child play a mix of sports and take at least one season off each year.
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