eople between the ages of 5 and 22 experience a sports-related injury. This translates to 20 million lost school days and an estimated $33 billion in healthcare costs, according to the assistant secretary for planning and evaluation.
This month is National Youth Sports Safety Month, the perfect time to raise awareness about safety at athletics competitions, ball games and playgrounds at school and in communities. .
To keep children in the game and having fun, it is important that their safety is the number one concern of parents and coaches.
“We are approaching the spring sports season and it is important to be ready to change or increase our activities”, says Colleen Dupuis, DO sports medicine physician for Aspirus Health. “Preventing sports injuries starts with getting to a basic level of fitness, slowing down the intensity and frequency of activities, learning proper techniques for your sport, wearing the proper equipment appropriate, hydration, good nutrition and appropriate warm-ups and cool-downs.”
There are several ways to keep kids active while protecting them from potential injury.
Here are some helpful tips for training before the next big game:
Gear up – When kids are playing active sports, make sure they use protective gear, such as helmets, wrist guards, and knee and elbow pads, in addition to any other adaptive sports gear to their activity or their position as a player.
Use the right things. Make sure sports protective equipment is properly maintained and in good condition, for example, with no missing or broken buckles or compressed or worn padding. Ill-fitting gear can be uncomfortable and not provide adequate protection.
It is practice makes perfect. – Ask the children to learn and practice skills relevant to the activity they have chosen. For example, proper tackling technique is important in preventing injuries in football and soccer. Proper biomechanics, or movement and alignment, also plays a role in injury prevention in baseball, softball, and many other activities.
Be well conditioned – Be sure to slowly and safely increase activities to improve your physical fitness; being in good condition can protect participants from injury.
Pay attention to the temperature – Allow time for child athletes to gradually adapt to hot or humid environments to avoid heat-related injury or illness. Parents and coaches should pay close attention to ensure players are hydrated and dressed appropriately.
Be a good role model – Communicate positive safety messages and role model safe behavior, including wearing a helmet and following the rules.
“It’s important to teach your children to listen to their bodies and avoid playing through the pain,” said Doctor Dupuis. “Children should also take breaks during training. And they should have at least one day off a week to play sports so that their body can recover.
For more health insights, tune into Dr. Dupuis’ podcast on running safely.
For more information on injury prevention resources, visit Safe Kids | Aspire Healthcare.