Injury Prevention Tips for Young Athletes
Sports play an important role in the growth and development of many children and young adults. More than health and physical fitness, sports activities imbue a sense of discipline, hard work, and team play in athletes that help mold them into better and more responsible members of society.
But as beneficial as athletics are in building character and bodily endurance, physically active people are more prone to injury. And as young athletes are still in the early stages of strengthening their bones and muscles, they are at a higher risk than adults. Sports-related injuries can range from minor to severe. In more serious cases, they can lead to impaired growth and long-term health problems.
Sports injuries have made a lot of parents worried and anxious about the well-being of their children. Thankfully though, many of these incidents can be prevented with the right habits and through sports physical therapy. It is up to the parents and coaches to promote an environment of healthy competition for these athletes and – of course – ensure that the children are in an excellent physical and mental state before and after every game.
Here are some tips to prevent sports injuries among young athletes.
Some kids are tougher than others; they would prefer to play through pain instead of complaining. But not all minor aches are genuinely minor, and young athletes need to understand how important it is to communicate any pain or discomfort they are feeling to their coaches and parents.
That said, adults have to foster a relationship where these athletes feel comfortable opening up when something doesn’t feel right. Early intervention is the best solution.
A pre-season physical is highly recommended
It’s best for young athletes to undergo a thorough physical exam before the start of school or athletic training to assess if they are fit to play. This also keeps them from further injuring themselves and enables them to get proper treatment in case a condition is detected upon examination.
A proper warm-up is key
You've probably heard this advice a million times, but it's still not stressed out enough. Many young athletes still tend to skip or rush through their warm-up routines, not realizing how essential it is to their performance and physical health.
Static and dynamic warm-up routines help the body prepare for the extensive physical activity up ahead. Stretching may be basic, but it's one of the most critical and effective injury prevention techniques. It should be a habit for all athletes, young and old.
Dedicate enough time for rest
Many young athletes tend to overexert themselves, especially when a big game is coming up. As admirable as the will to win is, wise athletes know when it's time to take a break. Overdoing it and not getting enough sleep can lead to muscle fatigue, which can lead to overuse injuries – something that has become common among young athletes these days.
Off-season exists for a reason. It gives athletes adequate time to recuperate before the next season begins.
Drink enough water
Hydration is another essential habit that needs to be stressed out more often. Many young athletes suffer from heat-related illness when they play on hot and humid days. Parents and coaches have to make sure that their children have had enough water before and after the game.
Use of proper techniques and equipment
As with almost everything else, there is a right and wrong way of doing things in sports. Athletes may get away with not following proper techniques or not wearing standard gears one or a few times, but eventually, it will get them in trouble. Way too often, athletes have to sustain an injury of some sort before realizing that they would’ve been better off had they stuck to the guidelines.
Failure to get help after an injury, no matter the severity, can make things worse. While it is an athlete’s responsibility to report any pain he or she is feeling, parents and coaches also have to be more vigilant for any changes in technique and performance as it could be a tell-tale sign of physical discomfort.
In case of injury, these kids need to see a doctor for assessment or undergo physical therapy, if required.