It’s time for another Austin Sports Medicine 101 class!
Over the last several blogs, we’ve discussed the importance of youth sports safety. Today we’re here to help parents identify some ways to prevent those youth sports injuries:
• Have your child receive a pre-participation physical. Having an annual pre-participation physical exam allows for the screening, prevention, and treatment of any conditions.
• Encourage your child to warm up properly before an activity. Warming up before an activity involves gradually bringing the heart rate up from the resting level by engaging in low-impact exercise such as jogging in place. Athletes should also stretch their muscles to release tension and help prevent injury. Stretching involves going just beyond the point of resistance and should not include bouncing. Stretches should be held for 10-12 seconds.
• Be sure your child cools down properly after an activity. Cooling down after an activity allows an athlete’s heart rate to gradually return to a resting level. Once again, stretching may be helpful to avoid injury.
• Obtain instruction on proper training and technique. Coaches and trainers are there to help teach proper technique and avoid injuries. It is very important for your child to listen to their instructions because most overuse injuries occur because of improper training or technique. Before beginning any training program or activity work, with a physician and/or coach to make sure the program won’t cause chronic or recurrent problems. They will take into consideration your child’s current fitness level and how the training program might complement or hurt it.
• Increase training gradually. When deciding when and how much to push your child to the next level, remember the 10 percent rule: do not increase training activity, weight, mileage, or pace by more than 10 percent per week. This allows the body ample time to recover.
• Have your child wear proper fitting equipment. Make sure your child’s equipment such as running shoes are in good condition and fi t properly. Something as simple as weekly equipment checks may help minimize the potential for injury.
• Be sure your child drinks enough water. Athletes often forget to hydrate—an essential step for the body to run well. Hydration allows muscles to work properly and avoid cramps and spasms. See that your child takes water breaks every 30 minutes or more often based on the level of activity and temperature.
• Encourage your child to rest and take a break. Athletes who play sports year-round are more likely than others to experience overuse injuries because they aren’t giving their bodies a chance to rest and recover. Encourage your child to take at least one season off a year. Also, suggest ways for your child to mix it up—encourage your child to play different sports during the year to avoid using the same muscle groups continuously, which can also lead to overuse injuries.