Sports Injury Prevention Guide for Kids
Do you play sports at school or home? If you do, you know that every once in a while, you can get pretty banged up while you play! It's a good idea to practice basic sports safety to keep yourself from getting hurt, no matter whether you're playing baseball, football, basketball, or any other sport. It's easy to stay safe on the field or on the court when you keep these tips in mind.
Wear Protective Gear
No matter what sport you play, there's probably some protective gear you can wear. Helmets are especially important in the sports that use them, like football, hockey, and the catcher's position in baseball. Mouth guards and pads are also crucial, and always make sure your protective gear fits properly. If it slips and slides or chafes you while you play, try a different size. Make sure all safety gear is tied or attached securely.
Warm Up and Cool Down
Warming up before playing any sport will make injuries less likely. If you have a coach, they probably have a favorite warmup routine. Whatever the details are, a warmup should have a variety of exercises you perform at a slow or moderate pace. The purpose is to get your heart rate up and muscles ready for the real work on the field. Cool down with a similar routine at a slower pace; don't go straight from full-speed play to rest.
Stretching is an important safety procedure that even Olympic athletes do. Stretching can be as simple as reaching up as high as you can, then reaching down to touch your toes. You can also use a sturdy bench to stretch your legs. There are usually special, sport-specific stretches you can do, too. Devoting ten minutes to stretching makes it much less likely that you'll get hurt during or right after your game. Still, it's important not to stretch too far. That can hurt!
Know the Rules of the Game
Be sure every player is completely clear on the rules of your game. There might be "house rules," like touch football instead of tackle, that new players need to know about. If you're playing a sport for the first time, don't be afraid to ask questions. A misunderstanding could get someone hurt, even when everyone is doing their best. If you see someone who doesn't seem to be playing right, don't be afraid to bring it up before something bad happens.
Don't Play When Injured
If you get hurt, even if it's a simple scrape, you should avoid sports until you are healed. A sprain or other injury should be looked at by an adult right away! It's also a good idea to avoid playing on several days in a row: After a tough game, your muscles might be sore and stiff. When they feel this way, they don't stretch as far or as easily as usual, so it's much easier to get injured. That's true even if you are careful to stretch before the game.
Use Proper Form and Technique
Using proper form is important, especially in sports like tennis and baseball where you have to repeat the same actions over and over. It can be a pain to use proper form every time, but it reduces the risk of injury and makes ordinary soreness less intense. When you notice that you can't seem to stay in proper form any longer, it's time to stop for the day. This is usually a sign that you are getting tired and might be at greater risk of injury.
Water is an important part of the sports injury prevention puzzle for all kinds of athletes. When you stay hydrated, you'll be more alert and your muscles and organs will work hard during the game. The first step to keeping your body hydrated is to drink plenty of water before the game. During play, you might only be able to drink during time-outs, so make sure you're choosing a good drink: Special sports drinks can be good, but make sure they are low in sugar!