As adults, we know the importance of staying safe while working out at the fitness center or participating in an outdoor sport, but children are still in the learning process – and they need your help. April is a timely month for Youth Sports Safety Month since many spring sports leagues are starting to ramp up. Let’s look at some ways to help you kids stay safe during their sports activities this spring and all year long.
Safe Kids Worldwide shows some statistics that are startling:
- One in 3 children active in sports are injured enough to miss practices or games
- Most injuries among kids happen during practice, not games
Overall, the CDC estimates that 2.6 million children visit the emergency room each year for a sports-related injury such as a strain, sprain, growth plate injury, and even overuse.
So, why are kids getting hurt so much in sports? One reason could be increased participation: nationally, there’s been more emphasis on getting kids active to avoid health issues like childhood diabetes and obesity. Another might be a lack of education or experienced coaching within youth sports. Regardless of what or who may be responsible, as a parent, it’s up to you to make sure your child is following safe sports practices — and to model safe fitness gym practices yourself.
Encourage your child to practice the following safety tips to avoid injuries and stay active in the sports they love.
A PPE Assessment
PPE stands for Pre-participation Physical Exam. Most schools and organizations will require your child to do this before being cleared for sports, but if not, it’s up to you as a parent to ensure your child is in good enough physical shape to participate.
Warming Up and Stretching
Just as personal trainers and fitness center staff stress warming up and stretching to avoid injuries among adults, it’s important for kids to practice these, as well. Make sure your kid’s coach engages the team in at least 10 minutes of light cardiovascular activity, as well as light stretches for major muscle groups, to help the warm and loosen up before each practice or game. If your child practices alone, it’s your responsibility to make sure they’re warming up and stretching.
Hydration is also key to avoiding heat exhaustion and other injuries, but kids don’t always know when it’s time to take a water break. Good coaches will help encourage this habit and provide team access to water and sports drinks, but make sure your child has their own water bottle, just in case.
The Right Gear (In Good Condition)
We get it: sports gear can get expensive. While it’s not vital that your child has the latest, brand-name equipment, it’s important they have the sport-specific protection they need, so don’t skimp on this important category. Watch your children to make sure they’re wearing and using their gear, and replace it as soon as it’s lost, damaged, or getting worn out.
Overuse injuries are becoming more common among children – a sign that sports participation may be getting a little too obsessive. If your child is active in a demanding sport, it’s important that they have 1 or 2 days off each week. It’s good for them to stay active, but make sure it’s a sport or recreational activity that doesn’t place demands on the same muscle groups they’re using the rest of the week.
Getting kids involved in sports at an early age is a great way to help them live a healthy and fit lifestyle that carries into adulthood. Follow these tips to keep your kids safe, healthy, and going strong — this spring and all year long.