The Tips You And Your Kids Need To Stay Safe While Playing Sports

It’s no secret that playing sports and other forms of exercise are beneficial to your body and mind. However, all sports and exercise activities come with the risk of injury. While such risks shouldn’t keep you from doing what you love, they should remind you that steps can be taken to prevent and treat injuries as small as blisters and as large as broken bones. These tips for keeping yourself and your little ones safe while exercising and playing sports will ensure you enjoy many more seasons of fun on the field, at the ski hill, in the water and all of the other places you love to play.

1. Know Your Limits

One of the simplest and most important ways to prevent injuries in sports is to know your capabilities and advance them slowly. Start every exercise session with a warmup, and then proceed to exercise within your capabilities, and encourage your kids and workout partners to do the same. Don’t start with a 5-mile run if you haven’t run in decades, and don’t hit jumps on your skis before you’ve mastered downhill turns. The most common sports injuries result from doing too much activity too quickly, overestimating ability levels, pushing your body too hard, and using incorrect techniques.

2. Speak Up and Encourage Others to Do the Same

It’s easy to ignore the symptoms of athletic injuries, and young athletes may not feel comfortable being honest about what hurts. Sit your kids down before they start playing sports, and explain that they need to be open about pain or symptoms they feel before, during or after playing. Adults can be even more stubborn than young athletes, so be honest with yourself about what hurts, and consult a professional about sports injury treatment before the problem gets worse.

The “no pain, no gain,” theory to achieving your sports and workout goals will only exacerbate your pain and muscle or joint-related problems. Sports injury prevention starts with understanding that you feel pain for a reason, and it’s usually because your body is warning you about possible sports-related injuries.

3. Don’t Over Exercise

We all know that parent who pushes his or her kid’s athletic abilities too far. Yet what many don’t consider is that adults also push themselves too far. Young and old athletes often focus on one or two sports, overusing the same muscles day after day. According to personal health writer Jane Brody, children under age 8, should take part in organized games or practices for no longer than one hour and no more than three days a week. Kids ages 9 through 12, should only do so for a maximum of one and a half hours, four days a week; and kids over age 13 should not practice or play organized games for more than two hours, four days a week.

Parents should be just as cautious about overworking their muscles as their youngsters, and the days between each practice, game or workout session should be used for recovery and rest.

4. Understand Your Exercise Environment

Taking part in athletics is fun, and it makes you and your young athletes feel good. However, your desire to take part in every game or workout session shouldn’t lead you to making irrational decisions about safety. Professional athletes are careful to adapt to new environments before practicing or competing, and that’s a practice you should instill in yourself and your kids. Working out in an air-conditioned gym every day, then running outdoors on a humid, 85-degree day, is an easy way to cause heat stroke — a heat-related injury that can be fatal.

Understand your and your child’s tolerance for heat and always keep plenty of drinks nearby when exercising. Check with event supervisors to ensure water, ice and cold towels are available for athletes.

5. Don’t Do It Alone

You’re not expected to be an EMT or know all of the ins and outs of sports medicine or sports therapy when getting yourself or your kids involved in sports. However, you should always have an expert you can call on your side.

Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center is home to the sports injury rehabilitation and sports physiotherapy experts you want on your family’s side. You can find us in Warrenton (540) 347-9220 and Gainesville (703) 743-2814, and same- or next-day appointments are available.

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