Jay Deimel: Preventing sports injuries
This article was originally published on goerie.com.
Whether your child is a school athlete or plays recreational or backyard sports, it’s important to know the facts to minimize sports-related injuries.
More than 3.5 million children age 14 and younger receive medical treatment for sports injuries annually and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of all sports injuries are preventable.
Keep these tips in mind:
Annual physical exam: It’s recommended that kids and teens have an annual physical, but it’s particularly important if your child is physically active or playing sports.
Talk with your child about pain: Before the season starts, make sure your child understands that he or she should never “push through the pain” and should let you know if anything doesn’t feel right.
Don’t forget the basics: Three balanced meals a day, plenty of sleep, and adequate hydration are vital to not only good health but also proper athletic function and fuel recovery.
“Start low and go slow”: Try to get your kids active for a few weeks before their school or recreational sports begin and get them into the habit of stretching before activity.
Encourage cross-training and sports variety: Kids who participate in a variety of sports are likely at a lower risk for injury than kids who specialize in just one sport because performing different sports keeps many muscles strong and fit.
Proper-fitting equipment: Make sure any helmets, pads, and athletic braces fit your child properly to help to ensure a lower injury rate. Don’t be afraid to ask the coach or trainer.
Recognize injury and get help early: If you notice your child limping, throwing a ball differently or rubbing a certain joint during activity, seek an evaluation with a physician to ensure a proper return to play and long-term joint health.
Have fun: On average, only 6 percent of youth athletes participate in sports in college, so keep the main focus on having fun, teamwork and fostering those all-important life-skills.
Jay Deimel, M.D., is an orthopedic surgeon and director of sports medicine at Saint Vincent Orthopaedic Institute.