This article is written by Michael Wolf, MD
For more on this topic, check out the full Sports collection
Portions of this article were first published through phillymag.com
Sports participation rates in children are at a high in America more than ever before. Whether a child plays multiple sports year-round, or is committed to succeeding at one sport, injury prevention is an important topic.
Michael Wolf, MD Sports Medicine Physician, Orthopedic Center for Children at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children offers four injury prevention tips parents can share with young athletes of all ages.
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1. Remember to Stretch and Strength
Proper conditioning is the key to avoiding injury. Stretching tight muscles should be performed daily. Core strengthening and strength training should be performed 2-3 times per week. Athletes should focus their stretching and strengthening in deficient areas. A proper warm up of aerobic activity and light stretching should be performed before every practice and game.
2. Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough fluids is extremely important and should start before an athlete is gearing up before the first day of practice. On practice days, young athletes should aim to hydrate before practice, during practice, and within two hours of practice ending. Water is appropriate for most athletic activity, but sports drinks with carbohydrates and electrolytes can be considered if there is more than 1 hour of activity. Caffeine and overly sugary drinks should be avoided at all times.
3. Use and Maintain Proper Gear
From sneakers to protective equipment, players should be sure to wear properly fitted gear. Gear includes, but is not limited to, helmets, pads, eyewear, mouthpieces and protective cups. If gear is broken or feels too loose or tight, talk to the coach, trainer, or equipment representative.
4. Speak Up About What Hurts
It’s important for children to speak up when they are experiencing pain or exhaustion. Coaches, trainers and parents should remind athletes they’re available to speak to when feeling pain or exhaustion. Breaks are also an important part of training and preventing injuries. One day off of physical activity per week is recommended to allow the body to properly recover.
*For more on this topic, check out the full Sports collection*
Featured Contributor: Michael Wolf, MD
Michael Wolf, MD is a board-certified sports medicine pediatrician at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. He treats children with acute injuries, fractures, acute and chronic athletic-related pain, concussions, and non-operative pediatric orthopedic conditions.