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11 Tips to Preventing Sports Injuries in Young Athletes

July 11, 2011

“It was like a punch in the stomach.” That’s how one young fan responded to Pujols injury, which, as the runner who collided with Pujlos said,  “I couldn’t do anything about it. He hit me on my left arm, that’s why he dropped the ball. I hit him and then I saw him on the ground. That’s part of the game. I couldn’t do anything about it.”

Injuries are a part of sports. This goes for children and young adult sports, too. Children and young adults love to play sports and other vigorous activities. It’s simply a healthy lifestyle that parents should support and encourage.

But naturally like most things in life there is an element of risk. Some sports and activities involve more risk than others.

The most frequent trip to the emergency room for teens between the ages of 12 and 17 is usually a sports-related injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And as children get older and grow in size and speed, their injuries tend to get more intense, which is not unexpected when you think about the higher production of force applied in sports like football or soccer. (See my article on concussions and children sports.)

According to the CDC, children from the ages of 5 to 14 suffer about 40 percent of all sports injuries in America. For the athletes in the 5 to 14 age group, collision and contact sports account for most of the injuries. In fact, football, basketball, soccer and baseball make up over 80 percent of emergency room visits for this age group. Three factors contribute to this high percentage of injuries in this age group:

1. Slow reaction times.

2. Underdeveloped coordination and accuracy.

3. Poor ability to judge the risks behind actions.

Yet when these sports and activities are practiced and played with the proper equipment and training with the help and supervision of competent and qualified coaches, the chances of injury are typically outweighed by the physical, social and mental benefits teenagers and children gain from these activities.

There is even further benefit when you think about the health consequences of a lifestyle without sports or activities. Serious diseases and conditions are associated with sedentary lifestyles.

But what can you do to minimize the risk of injury to your young athlete? Follow these 11 tips.

●     Involve your children at a young age to sports programs that don’t promote contact and collision and unhealthy competition.

●     Choose programs that are led by competent, qualified coaches and trainers who know the sport they are promoting.

●     Make sure surfaces where sports are played are safe and well maintained.

●     Make sure safety equipment is provided for each child.

●     Every young athlete should have a preseason physical exam.

●     Insist every young athlete participate in regular physical activity to ensure they get in shape and stay in shape.

●     Do not allow young athletes to practice or play unless they’ve properly warmed up. Insist on proper cool down times, too.

●     Properly hydrate all children during practice and actual sporting events.

●     Don’t forget the sunscreen, a basic item for your summer sports medicine kit!

●     Remember that only 1 in 16,000 children will ever play professional sports, according to Georgia State University.

Unhealthy competition can lead to aggressive and dangerous practice and play that can send a young athlete to the hospital. Even though injuries are part of the big game, let’s do our part to enjoy and participate in the sports we love and prevent unnecessary injuries as much as we can.


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