Summer provides one of the most active times of the year when every child wants to play outdoors and participate in sports. From Frisbee golf to football camps, the time has come for them to get outside and stay outside. However, it is vital that you send them out thoroughly prepared so they do not incur any injuries along the way.
You might not have thought of this one at first, but all that time in the sunshine causes sunburns and sun damage. By slathering your child in sunscreen of at least 30 to 50 SPF before they go outside, you help them avoid becoming one of the 40 to 50 percent of individuals who battle skin cancer by the time they reach 65 years of age. You can also purchase sports versions of sunscreen that provide up to 100 SPF in a spray on product for easier application.
Buy the Right Protective Gear
As many parents know, children love to roughhouse, especially boys. Whether they want to wear it or not, boys need to wear a cup, and all children need to wear pads whether they skateboard or compete in football. In any contact sport, a child should wear a helmet as well as for solo sports like rollerblading, cycling, and rock climbing.
Children grow out of protective gear, just as they do clothes and shoes. Double-check their pads and helmet conditions before each practice and update their equipment regularly. It’s a good idea to also read the CDC guide to preventing brain injuries before your child starts playing contact sports, so you know what to expect. Less than five percent of individuals playing contact sports incur a concussion. Rather than worry, it’s better to be over prepared than underprepared by knowing the signs, so your child fares well in the sports they’re participating in.
Stretch and Strengthen Muscles
When children are young, part of the job of the parent is teaching them to warm up before they go to practice or a game. This reduces the risk of injury and ensures they don’t hit the track, field, etc. without doing so. Parents and coaches should develop an appropriate program for strength training once the child ages enough. Grade school children should not be weightlifting, but rather use isometrics to build strength until they reach junior high school.
Learn and Apply the Rules of the Game
Learning and applying rules of the game refers to more than just memorizing rule sets. Children must learn to follow the rules and play by them every time. Both parents and coaches can contribute to this by only complimenting and encouraging players who excel while following the rules. Team captains should lead by example. They learn from adults and what most children learn is that they do not like the way adults take the joy out of sports by encouraging inappropriate competitiveness at beginner levels, such as tee-ball and Pop Warner football. The AOSSM reports that by the time they reach the age of 13, 70 percent of children leave youth sports, typically because of “adults, coaches and parents,” expressing this overaggressive competitive behavior.
Take a Break!
About half of sports injuries happen due to overuse. The athlete simply trains straight through the day rather than taking water breaks, snack breaks, or varying from cardio days to strength training days. Allowing time for a break every now and then is essential because it allows for your body to recuperate and not just constantly go, go, go. By doing so, your child will cause an injury rather than prevent one.
Avoid Playing Injured
Their heroes on televised games may play through injury, but you need to educate children that playing with a pre-existing injury increases their risk of serious injury. It may sadden them to ride the bench for a game or two, but that makes a better scenario than an injury that benches them for a season.
At Bard & Didriksen Pediatrics, we know the importance of keeping kids active, especially during the summer. For more information on how to prevent a summer sports injury, contact us today so you can keep your children safer and let them enjoy their sports all summer long.