Playing a sport is a great way for children to find friends who stick by them through the good and the bad times. Unfortunately, for many young athletes, the bad times come more often than they should.
Nearly 2,000 children were brought to the Soin Pediatric Trauma and Emergency Center at Dayton Children's in 2010 with sports-related injuries. More than 90 percent of children treated for sports injuries are older than age 9. These injuries are typically preventable if the proper precautions are taken. Preventing injury at an early age sets a child up for a healthy, injury-free future – both on and off the field.
Keys to avoiding injuries
“In addition to traumatic sports injuries, I often see young athletes in my office with overuse injuries affecting the feet, knees, and spine,” says Craig Shank, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Dayton Children’s. “Many of these injuries could be prevented by proper stretching of the Achilles and hamstring tendons.”
Young athletes must always prepare for playing a sport. Preparation should include:
- Warm-ups such as a five minute jog
- Stretching the major muscle groups of the body, paying close attention to hamstrings and heel chords
- Cooling down
- Properly hydrating the body by drinking water before, during and after playing
- Wearing the appropriate gear for practices as well as games is also a key in prevention. Make sure equipment is the right size for your child. Equipment cannot protect your child if it is too big or too small.
Rules: Why are there rules?
Regardless of the sport your child is playing, there are rules that govern every aspect of the game. Those rules are not in place to stop the game from being fun. They’re in place to protect everyone playing the game.
For example, a late hit in football results in a huge penalty. Why? Because the player getting hit didn’t expect another player to hit him unprotected. In baseball and softball, a player sliding into second base with his or her cleats up is ejected. Why? Because it is dangerous and could lead to injury. With soccer, the referee blows his or her whistle when an opposing player tries to kick a ball near another player’s head. Why? To protect both players involved. Rules are in place to protect the players; encourage your child to follow them!
Being a positive role model for your child early in their life will make them more likely to follow safe habits as they get older. Together, with our Kohl's Cares partners, we can take injury out of play!
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