There is no doubt that kids and teens today are playing sports harder and with more intensity than ever before. What used to be a baseball game in the empty lot behind the grocery store played on weekends is now a structured, statewide or even nation-wide competition played year-round.
The more time our kids spend on the playing field, the better the chance that, sooner or later, a sports-related injury is bound to happen. Regardless of how physically fit or active your child is, injuries happen, even to the highest paid and best-trained athletes in the world.
Common injuries include sprains and strains, spondylolysis, tendonitis, ACL tears in the knee and Osgood-Schlatter, which is a knee problem that occurs to those who are very active and are going through puberty, just to name a few.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so as the founder of Better Health Chiropractic in Wasilla, I created a list of ways you can prevent common sports injuries before your child ends up at the hospital or in my clinic.
7 Super Prevention Methods
- Get an Annual Checkup
This is always a highly recommended step to determine if your child is in good enough physical shape to play for another season, as well as for spotting any possible problems before kids return to active games. You should not only see your pediatrician for a checkup but visit your local chiropractor as well. Studies show that a pre-participation physical exam reduces musculoskeletal injuries.
- Talk with Your Young Super Star
I feel that it is a good idea for children who are active in sports to know that it’s OK if they stop playing, even mid-game if they feel pain and tell you about it when they get home. Some children (not to mention some coaches) believe that they need to push through the pain and keep playing, but this often leads to a more serious injury. Be certain that your child knows that pain is the body’s way of telling them that something is wrong and that it’s OK to stop playing.
- Let Them Rest!
Unfortunately, I see many parents allowing (or pushing) their children to play more than one sports game or on more than one team at a time, which leaves them precious little time for school, school work, play time, and rest. A lack of sleep leads to poor performance and, typically, injuries from overuse. Every athlete needs rest to allow the body to repair itself. Insist that your child gets a minimum of 8 hours of sleep each night. It’s even better if you can also manage another 2 hours a day for, as the kids call it, chillaxin, which means time off from sports that doesn’t include sleep, such as video games or watching movies.
- Use Proper Equipment
Talk to your child’s coach about what type of safety equipment your child will need well before the season starts so you have adequate time to buy sizes that fit your child. In small towns, stores sometimes sell out of things like helmets, elbow or knee pads, or have limited sizes available. Knowing in advance what you will need can help you avoid forcing your child to wear a medium for a few weeks until the size small is back in stock.
- Emphasize Hydration and Warm-Up
When it’s hot and/or humid out, many children end up dehydrated at best or at risk of suffering from heat stroke at worst. Be sure your child has (and understands the importance of) drinking water before, during, and after the game. If you are present, always be on the lookout for signs of heat stroke, such as fainting, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.
Although most coaches put their team through warm-up routines if the coach is late (or lazy) this important injury preventing step might get passed over. Stress the importance of warming up before the game. If you can, perhaps practice a few simple warm-up exercises with your child at home so they will know what to do if the coach is late. Toe touches, hamstring stretches, and jumping jacks are all good examples of stretching and warmup exercises that kids of all ages can do.
- Stress Proper Technique(s)
I see cases of sports-related injuries every year due to a simple lack of following proper technique. Football players should understand how to tackle and avoid a concussion. Baseball players should know how to throw the ball to avoid elbow injuries, and soccer players should know how tightly they can lace their shoes to avoid Sever’s Disease.
- Recognizing Injuries
Whether kids aren’t speaking up because they don’t want to be taken out of the game or if it’s mom and dad who aren’t seeking help for injuries right away, too many children sustain serious injuries because the symptoms were dismissed as being minor and the child continued to play their chosen game.
Parents- your children may not want to let the team down or they might even be too young to understand that what they are feeling is not normal. Look for signs of possible injuries, such as limping, favoring one arm, or rubbing their knee while they are waiting to be called.
When an Injury Does Occur
Obvious serious injuries, such as broken legs or fingers, should have you rushing to the emergency room for treatment.
Otherwise, you should visit your local chiropractor for natural healing that involves no drugs, no invasive surgeries, and is holistic in nature. Chiropractors treat the entire body, not just the symptoms.
In fact, 31% of NFL teams employ a chiropractor full time and 77% of all teams have referred their players to a chiropractor. You will find chiropractic care is safe and effective for everyone and that your child will feel so much better after a few sessions that they will be asking when their next appointment is to see the doctor!
Practice the above prevention methods and keeping an eye out for injuries so they can be treated quickly will keep your child happy and in the game for many years to come.
About Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab, a different type of chiropractic clinic which treats patients the way Dr. Wells would want his family to be treated. Born and raised in Southern California, Dr. Wells received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nevada and his Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine degree from Western States Chiropractic College. He, his wife Coni, and their three children live in and enjoy the great outdoors in Alaska. Dr. Wells volunteers for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Foundation and can be found hiking or rollerblading when he isn’t playing his guitar.