8 Ways to Prevent Sports Injuries
Sports injuries are becoming increasingly common and account for many injuries in children and adolescents. With more active children participating in sports and various kinds of activities, parents need to provide them with the right protective gear and minimise the occurrence of injuries as much as possible. While minor cuts and scratches are inevitable, the risk of injury increases with recreational sports such as cricket and football.
Here are 8 ways for parents to keep in mind before sending their children off to the next big game in order to prevent sports injuries.
Supervise during sports activities.
Children are more susceptible to getting injured during physical activities than adults. Typically, the injuries sustained by children involve their growth plates and bones. While effective treatments are available for various types of injuries, the primary goal should be to prevent injuries while engaging in any sport. As a parent, closely supervising practice sessions or games can greatly help children avoid injuries.
Emphasise the importance of warming up.
Children, especially youngsters, tend to be hyperactive and enthusiastic when playing a game they’ve been practising or love. Going straight into a game without adequately preparing the muscles beforehand can lead to stress and strain on the muscles. Hence, it’s incredibly important to have a proper exercise plan and warm-up session just before the game, whether it’s swimming or cycling. Children might feel tempted to skip this part before their favourite activity, but guiding them in the right direction will prove beneficial for their well-being both in the short-term and the long run.
Plan a healthy and nutritious diet
The importance of a healthy diet consisting of nutritious foods cannot be emphasised enough. Whether it’s for any type of activity, a healthy diet is essential to meet the nutritional requirements of growing children, as well as to maintain the health of their bones and tissues, ensuring strong foundational development. An ideal diet for young athletes may consist of a balance of carbohydrates as a constant source of energy, proteins for promoting strong muscle and tissue growth as well as repair, and healthy fats from sources like nuts, plants, and fish.
Ensure ample hydration
Engaging in any outdoor sport leads to exhaustion and fatigue, accompanied by a significant loss of fluids through sweating, especially during the summer. To keep the body replenished with the necessary electrolytes and fluids, it’s crucial to ensure that they drink ample water before, during, and after playing any sports. Mixing an electrolyte solution with water could be beneficial in restoring lost salts.
Encourage children to get enough rest.
Intermittent rest is as essential as staying hydrated during the duration of sports. During continuous muscular activities, muscles can become fatigued, which can lead to injuries. Taking ample rest in between while playing is important to prevent muscle fatigue and regain strength before continuing the game. Sometimes it is also imperative to take a few days of rest to encourage the healing of the body and mind. Not only is it essential to avoid injuries, but it’s also important in the process of healing previous injuries.
Don’t ignore their pain symptoms.
Most sports injuries occur due to muscle fatigue, especially in sports that require repeated movements of a particular part of the body. For example, football requires constant running, hitting, and kicking, likely leading to fatigue in the leg muscles. In fact, accidentally getting hit by another player or by an object can lead to bone fractures at the point of impact. This can be excruciatingly painful for younger children and can develop into a chronic injury if left untreated.
When you notice a child complaining of such pain, taking primary care by icing and elevating the injured area, along with allowing minimal interference with the area of injury, can help ease pain and reduce inflammation. If the pain persists for a long time or if it is too intense for the child, seeking medical attention may be beneficial.
Double-checking properly fitted sports gear
Before sending children onto the field, ensure that the protective gear fits properly and is strong enough to support the body, even upon impact. From wearing the right size of comfortable shoes to helmets for the head (in specific sports like cricket or hockey), and wearing protective knee and ankle guards (for sports like football), sports gear is extremely important to prevent injuries on the field. It is also important to keep the protective sports gear in good shape and replace it when it starts to wear away.
Ensure they get ample sleep
Sleep is the body’s reset mechanism, allowing time for repair and healing throughout the entire body, thereby recharging the body for the next day’s activities. Getting an ample amount of sleep is crucial for everyone, but even more so for children involved in physical activities and sports. Otherwise, they may lag in performance, suffering in terms of speed, strength, reaction time, and endurance, despite their training and diet.
Young athletes must get 8-10 hours of sleep to ensure they are well-rested and ready for the next day. Getting enough sleep also helps them train effectively and compete in sports with optimal effort. This is essential to prevent muscle fatigue faster, along with preventing injuries. Therefore, the importance of sleep for optimal performance and healing cannot be denied.
At the end of the day, playing sports should not just be about competition, but also about how much children enjoy themselves during these sports activities. Being safe and secure while enjoying a game already achieves the goal of healthy living. However, as a parent, remind your child to:
- Learn the proper techniques of the sports they are playing.
- Listen to and follow their coach properly.
- Discuss any problems with their coach that they may be facing during training.
Supporting young athletes comes in various ways, but remaining vigilant of the signs of injury is of utmost importance to initiate primary or professional care.
In case of any queries related to sports injuries or your child’s growth and development, you can visit our paediatric specialists at Omni Hospital to ensure the best possible care for your child’s needs and health requirements. We offer patient-centric, specially tailored treatment and management care to ensure the overall healthy development and well-being of children with diverse health conditions and requirements, including primary and special care for sports-related injuries such as fractures and dislocations.