(StatePoint) For many kids, playing sports is an important part of growing up, and that’s a good thing. Sports are a great way for children and adolescents to develop lifelong exercise habits, build relationships, and learn teamwork.
“Parents can play a vital role in ensuring young athletes train and condition properly,” says Dr. James M. Perrin, 2014 president of the American Academy of
Pediatrics (AAP). “From staying hydrated to wearing safety gear, kids may need periodic reminders.”
Here are ways to help your child avoid common sports hazards:
Athletes will reduce their risk of injury by strengthening muscles to protect vulnerable ligaments. This is especially important for sports in which athletes are prone to injuring their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which provides stability to the knee.
Girls need to be especially careful, according to statistics. Adolescent girls are four to eight times more likely to suffer ACL injuries than boys, according to the AAP. Neuromuscular training programs that strengthen hips, the core muscles and hamstrings can significantly reduce one’s risk for injury. This training will help athletes improve their form and have a greater awareness of how to safely pivot, jump and land.
Water is the best way for kids to stay hydrated while playing or exercising. Sports and energy drinks are heavily marketed to children and adolescents, but in most cases kids don’t need them — and some of these products contain ingredients that could be harmful. Sports drinks which contain electrolytes, can be helpful for athletes engaged in prolonged, vigorous exercise, but in most cases they’re unnecessary. Plain water is best.
Don’t overdo it
The most common type of sports injury is from overuse. Ignoring pain can worsen the injury and cause long-term damage.
“The best way for parents to prevent overuse injuries is to pay attention to their child’s training schedule,” Perrin says Limit your child to a training schedule of no more than five days per week. Alternating sports can help avoid burnout.
For more information visit HealthyChildren.org.