On any given day across Cache Valley, young athletes can be seen warming up, playing hard, and giving it their all. Tennis, soccer, football, cross country, volleyball, and even marching band members are working hard to perfect their sport or activity. Practices last up to three hours as the young athletes train to be better.
Sports and activities like these are a great way for kids to be involved and stay active in their younger years. It can teach them hard work, dedication, and sportsmanship.
However, with an increased time spent participating in physical activity comes an increased risk of injury. Youth athletes are more prone to injury due to their still-developing musculoskeletal system. Some of the injuries young athletes face include:
- Sprained ankle
- Shoulder injuries
- Torn ACL
- Broken bones
- Pulled tendons
In a growing athlete, repeated motions suchs as throwing, kicking, or turning can lead to other chronic pain injuries, making it hard for them to participate in their sport. Whether the injury is from an accident or has happened over time, a child should never be asked to play through the pain. Always consult with an orthopaedic sports medicine surgeon if the injury is impeding their performance.
Strategies to Prevent Sports Injuries
Here are a few suggestions to help keep your child safe while allowing them to enjoy their activity.
Make sure they are in proper physical condition.
Ensure that your child is ready for the daily practices and weekly games by encouraging them to stay in shape during the summer. Many injuries happen due to lack of strength or ability. A pre-sport physical can help determine if the child is ready to participate in the sport.
If a gear is needed, help your child make sure they are wearing the gear properly. Helmets, gloves, and shin guards should fit the child well. Cleats should be sized correctly and tied to prevent tripping. If gear is used (tennis racket, baseball bat, etc.) make sure the child is using it the way it was meant to be used. A 6 year old should not be using equipment made for a senior in high school.
Warm-up & Cool-down
Coaches, make sure you allow plenty of time for your team to get to the playing field and stretch. Take them through a series of warm ups that will get all their muscles engaged and moving. Encourage the team to warm up together to build team spirit. Cool down after a game or practice to relax and make sure they take enough time to recover after the vigorous activities.
Coaches can make or break a team. Along with knowing the rules, all coaches should receive proper emergency first-aid training to be prepared for an accident. The coach should have a safety first” attitude rather than a “win at all costs” attitude to allow the kids to be competitive but safe.
Participation in multiple sports
In recent years, orthopaedic surgeons have seen an increased amount of overuse injuries as kids are getting more and more involved. Sports can be a great way for kids to make friends, but too many sporting activities without a break can actually damage their health. Do not allow your child to play one sport year round. Taking regular breaks and playing other sports is essential to skill development and injury prevention.
If a sports injury does happen, Dr. Keith has your back. As an orthopaedic surgeon, he is able to diagnosis and treat all kinds of sports injuries to help your athlete recover and return to the game they love.