Sports injury prevention
When playing sports, it’s important that your child take proper precautions to keep from getting injured.
Most common causes of sports injuries
Knowing the cause of most sports injuries is the first step to preventing injury. Here’s a list of high-risk situations to avoid:
- faulty or ill-fitting safety gear and equipment, such as helmets and pads
- inappropriate shoes for the sport
- inappropriate skill, weight and/or physical and psychological maturity level for the sport
- lack of adult supervision
- lack of appropriate hydration
- unsafe playing environment
- lack of enforced sports rules
- too high or low temperatures
- lack of shock-absorbing playing surface
- doing activities (such as bike riding) too close to motor vehicles
- lack of proper maintenance of equipment
- lack of proper medical evaluation prior to participation in organized sports
- sudden, dramatically-increased activity levels (doing too much too soon)
- inadequate rehabilitation of injuries before continuing to participate in a sport
Common sports injuries include:
- Sprains and Strains
- Overuse Injuries
- Ankle Sprain
- Eye Injury
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Head Injury
- Heat Cramps, Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
- Liver Injuries
- Teeth Injuries
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)
- AC Joint Injuries
- Spinal Fracture
- Tennis Elbow
- Dislocated Patella
- Spleen Injuries
- Acetabular Labral Tears
- Facial Fractures
Safety gear and equipment
Safety gear should be sport-specific and may include such items such as goggles, mouth guards, helmets and shin, elbow and knee pads. The safety gear worn by a child should fit properly.
Sports equipment (such as bats, baskets and goals) should be in good working condition. The playing area should be free from debris and water.
To make sure your child is physically fit enough to participate in a particular sport, your child's physician can conduct a "sports physical." These exams can reveal your child's physical strengths and weaknesses, and help determine which sports are most appropriate for her.
Most sports physicals include an examination that measures height, weight and vital signs, as well as an evaluation of the eyes, nose, ears, chest and abdomen. Your child's physician may also perform an orthopedic examination to her check joints, bones and muscles.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children begin participating in team sports no earlier than age 6, when they are more likely to understand the concept of teamwork. However, no two children are alike, and some may not be ready physically or psychologically to take part in a team sport at age 6.
Sweating is a natural effect of exercising, and to avoid dehydration, your child needs to replace the water lost with equal amounts of fluids. On average, for each hour of intense sports activity, your child will need to drink one to one and a half liters of water.
It’s best if your child drinks fluids before, during and after each practice or game. To avoid stomach cramps, encourage your child to drink about one cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Have them avoid carbonated and caffeinated beverages.
The most common symptoms of dehydration include:
- dark-colored urine
- slight weight loss
The pressure to win when participating in sports, a poor relationship with a coach or frustration about never getting to play in games can affect a child negatively.
Signs that your child may be suffering from stress related to a sport may include:
- loss of appetite
- sleeping more than usual
- withdrawal from friends and family