We read about sports injuries in the news, and hear stories about professional athletes suffering career-ending injuries. When you push yourself to your physical limits, there’s an increased risk of injury, but those injuries aren’t just limited to adults and professional athletes. Kids can suffer sports injuries just like adults can.
Understanding the causes of sports injuries in children, and knowing how to prevent those injuries, is the first step in keeping your kids safe while playing sports.
Young children are often less coordinated and have slower reaction times than adults or older children. Also, their judgement and ability to assess the risk of injury in a situation is lesser than that of older athletes. All of these factors can contribute to sports injuries in children.
There’s also the fact that children grow and develop at different rates. It’s not uncommon to have 10-inches and 30 pounds separating children playing on the same field. When you get children of different size playing against each other, the risk of injury increases. Of course, as children get bigger and stronger, the chance of injury gets greater. The force of contact generated by a child who is 6 is significantly less than that of a child who is 16.
There are three main types of injuries that children may suffer from sports: acute injury, overuse injury, and reinjury.
Acute injuries are those that happen suddenly. They can include injuries as mild as scrapes or bruises or can be as severe as a broken bone or concussion.
Overuse injuries are those caused by repetitive motion. You do the same movements over and over and damage the bones, muscles, joints, or ligaments in your body. Think of things like pitching, tennis, and swimming that require athletes to do the exact same motions repeatedly. Overuse injuries can be painful and inconvenient, and they can also interfere with a child’s growth and development.
Reinjury happens when a previous injury is aggravated. This typically occurs when an athlete doesn’t give an injury the proper time to heal.
Prevention is the best cure for sports injuries. Here are some things to consider when keeping your child safe.
Wearing the right safety equipment is essential. Wear those shin guards and strap on those helmets. Don’t cut corners or gamble with your child’s safety.
Examine the equipment that your child will use. Defective sports equipment can not only fail in preventing injury, but can actually lead to injury.
Make sure that the playing environment is safe. Ruts, dips, and divots on a soccer pitch are all that it takes for a sprained ankle or a hyperextended knee. Make sure that the playing surfaces are in good condition and prevent outside interference (loose balls on the side of a basketball court, etc.) that could cause injury.
Adult supervision is important in children’s sports. Whether it’s the refs, coaches, or parents, adults can help make sure that children stay safe.
Make sure that children know what they’re doing before stepping onto the field. Practice and understanding how a sport works are key in preventing injury.
Children should warm-up before playing sports. This gets increasingly important the older an athlete gets, but it’s good to teach children the habit of a proper warm up before competition.
Make sure that children are properly nourished before the game, and that they stay hydrated during the game.
Though you can take measures to reduce the risk of injury, sometimes injuries cannot be prevented. That’s when you need to see a medical professional. For non-emergency injuries, take your child to Northwest Arkansas Pediatric Acute Care Clinic or one of our seven FirstCare Family Doctors locations. Your physician may refer your child to one of our expert sports medicine chiropractic doctors at Millennium Chiropractic Sports Medicine and Rehab.