Injury Prevention in Young Athletes

As youth participation in sports continues to increase, so has the number of sports-related injuries. The obligation of injury prevention is the responsibility of the parents and the coaches. If the proper caution is taken, a significant number of injuries can be prevented each season.

However, if injuries do occur, it is important to seek medical attention from a physician that specializes in sports medicine and never allow a young athlete to “work through the pain”. If left untreated, injuries can cause permanent damage and may interfere with proper physical growth.

Young athletes should have a physical exam prior to joining a new sport to ensure readiness to play. Following the physical, the next step to preventing injuries is to purchase any necessary and required protective gear. Care should be taken to make certain that it fits the athlete properly.

Starting practices and games with a proper warm-up is necessary and must become a part of their routine throughout their athletic career. Once the muscles are warm, stretching can commence. If not performed correctly, stretches can cause injury. Care should be taken to avoid “bouncing” during a stretch, hyper-extending joints, straining the neck and back, and deep knee bends. All stretches should be done slowly and carefully with the body relaxed. To be effective, each stretch should be held for 15-30 seconds.

Additionally, it’s important that the athlete has a proper night’s sleep, is sufficiently hydrated and is not overworked or fatigued. Also remember to always have adult supervision at all practices and games. That adult should be qualified, trained, and educated in the sport.

These are some of the many ways to keep your young athlete on the field and free from injury. Remember, keep the best interest of your young athlete in mind, and play safe!

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