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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 80 percent of sports-related injuries in children result from playing football, basketball, baseball or soccer. Two-thirds of these injuries are soft-tissue injuries, including sprains (tearing of a ligament) and strains (tearing of a muscle or tendon). Only 5 percent of children's sports injuries involve broken bones.
Millions of children, ages 5 to 15 years, participate in the fun and excitement of sports activities everyday as their parents happily cheer them on in the stands. However, the fun can soon turn to fear and panic when a child is injured. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 3.5 million sports-related injuries in children under the age of 15 are treated in hospitals, clinics, and emergency rooms each year. Long after the panic and immediate treatment, possible problems could appear later. So, what can parents and coaches do to protect their kids?
Five Tips to Help Prevent Sports Injuries in Young Athletes:
Dr. Packard Spicer offers the following suggestions to help guide young athletes to safety:
1. Parents and coaches should be aware of the appropriate body mechanics and physiology behind each sport. "It's key for a coach and for parents to understand what body positions and stretching techniques best protect a player," says Dr. Packard Spicer. "A classic example of an incorrect technique that can possibly tear ligaments is a hurdle stretch that has kids stand on one leg and reach their other one off to the side. The correct method is to bend the elevated leg and hold it or tuck it close to the back side of the body."
2. A proper resistance training program to meet the demands of the specific sport. Despite previous concerns that children would not benefit from resistance exercises or that the risk of injury was too great, clinicians and exercise scientist now agree that resistance training exercising can be a safe and effective method of conditioning for children. Resistance training can reduce injuries in sports and recreation activities, and improve motor skills and sports performance.
3. Wear protective gear and make sure it fits properly and is sport-appropriate. "Only use equipment specifically designed for the sport your child is playing. I've seen some kids wear football cleats for soccer and due to the peg underneath the shoe, they end up tripping," says Dr. Packard Spicer
4. Kids should play by the rules. Not playing by the rules results in fouls and penalties, which increases the likelihood of injury.
5. Don't play through the pain or with an injury. "It's important to respect the healing process and to avoiding playing when one has an injury," says Dr. Packard Spicer. "Also, know your child and the signs that he or she shows when in pain, and instead of telling him to "tough it out," pull him out of the game to prevent an actual injury."
Good nutrition is important for bone building. "Especially for kids, it is important to eliminate the "junk" food from their diets and to add the necessary fruits and vegetables, calcium, and protein that help build strong bones," Dr. Packard Spic