Sports injuries can be a pain to manage, and they are certainly something that every parent wants to avoid their child going through. Sometimes, accidents do happen so unfortunately it isn’t always possible to avoid these injuries. However, there are some preventative measures you can take and philosophies you can follow as a parent to do as much as you can to help your child or children you are watching from getting injured while playing sports! We’ve listed some of the most important examples below. Also, note that all programs run by Kidzphyz Sports are managed by a professional coaching team, accredited in their sport, possess current Working with Children Checks and are qualified to administer first aid.
Use the proper equipment
While it may seem straightforward, ensuring that children are using the proper equipment when playing sports can be a large step to help them avoid getting injured and stay safe. This advice can be taken two ways. First of all, making sure to use the correct protective gear while playing sports is essential. For example, making sure they wear shin guards while playing soccer or a helmet while batting during cricket is a crucial way to prevent common injuries. Secondly, making sure the equipment they are using is of the correct quality is important as well. This can be, making sure that the soccer cleats that kids are using are not too worn-down, in which case they would have less grip and be more dangerous, or similar having shoes that provide enough support to the ankles when playing basketball.
Proper warm up
Another way to help reduce the chance of injury during sports is by making sure the child athletes warm up properly. Depending on the age and level of play the amount of warm up necessary certainly varies, with older or higher level athletes generally needing more thorough warm up routines. The most basic of routines may simply involve different intervals of jogging, stretching (dynamic and static), and basic drills related to the sport. Alternatively, more advanced warm ups may include the above as well as more complex movements or plyometric activity – with the necessity to warm up and activate fast-twitch muscle fibres for more explosive movements. In any case, warming up properly and preparing the muscles for more intense activity than usual plays a key role in injury prevention for child athletes.
Stretching is a key part of a proper warm up routine, however, it can also be introduced outside of warm up routines and regular sport activity as a beneficial addition to prevent injury. As mentioned above, stretching generally falls under two categories, dynamic and static. Dynamic stretching generally consists of stretching different muscles in tandem with some sort of active movement. This can be for example, pairing a hamstring stretch with a very slow jog, reaching down to stretch every few steps. This and more advanced dynamic stretching can be really constructive for child athletes and help them work on their flexibility. Static stretching is also a valuable tool to increase flexibility and is the more traditionally thought manner of stretching; reaching to stretch a specific muscle and holding the stretch – without any active movements incorporated. Overall, stretching plays an important role due to the increased flexibility, which can help avoid injuries such as strained muscles for example.
Stretching can also play a role in a “prehabilitation” or prehab routine. Essentially, conversely to rehabilitation, which occurs in the recovery phase after an injury has been suffered, prehab entails strengthening specific muscle groups in order to prevent the injury happening in the first place. Depending on the level of the child, this may more may not be necessary, however, in any case, strengthening muscle groups can help decrease the probability of muscle tears. This may also be more relevant to child athletes who have been injured in the past – who have completed rehab. These children could benefit significantly by restrengthening and increasing the flexibility of specific muscles that may have been injured before – thus reducing risk of re-injuring them.
Proper Coaching and Avoid Overworking Them
It is sometimes hard to gauge what a child athlete’s limit for physical activity is, however, it is key to help them listen to their body and not push them too hard past this limit. Generally, they should have a good idea of what they are capable of, so it is important to have a clear line of communication and let them have time for rest and recovery should they need it. Tying into this, the coach can also play a large role in this area. Generally, licensed and experienced coaches can gauge the limits of players well, and in this way can help make sure they push them just far enough so that they improve, however, not too far so that they may suffer higher injury risk.
Proper coaching can also help kid athletes learn proper movements and techniques that help reduce injury risk. This can be for example, teaching a child how to tackle properly, in a way that they won’t hurt themselves and also importantly won’t injure the player that they are tackling.
Responsible Injury Treatment
Finally, in the unfortunate situation that an injury has occurred, it is important to treat the injury properly. This includes seeking proper medical assistance if necessary, allowing enough time to heal for some injuries that may, and doing the correct rehabilitation activities to help your child recover and get back to the sport they love playing as fast and healthily as they can.
Hopefully by following some of the above advice, you have a better idea for how to avoid injury prevention in child athletes! If you are interested in more information about sports development in children, be sure to check out Kidzphyz’s professional learning workshops!