Keeping Kids in the Game

Sports can help kids develop healthy exercise habits and may be part of the solution for the rise in childhood obesity and other concerning medical conditions we once connected to adulthood, such as Type 2 diabetes and elevated cholesterol levels.

You can expect more bumps and bruises when your kid takes on the challenge of youth league football, baseball, or soccer, for example. However, there are ways to prevent young athletes from experiencing strains, sprains, and other injuries that can end their season early.

We have a large team of highly qualified sports medicine orthopedists, podiatrists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, athletic trainers and rehabilitation specialists at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists who are well-equipped to help you heal after an injury. But we’d rather see you on the field than in our exam rooms.

So, we’ve put together a list of actions parents and kids can take to help prevent injury and ensure sports activities remain on your schedule this season, and for years to come.

Preseason homework

Check out the coaching staff, the association sponsoring the sport, and the equipment being used.

Meet with the coaches and take the time to monitor a few practice sessions. The best coaches inspire children to develop their full potential but don’t place the emphasis on winning at all costs.

Knowledge of the sport, good motivational skills, and effective communication are all part of being a stellar coach, one who won’t force your child to play even when it hurts.

Make sure game and practice equipment is in top shape as well. You may have to pay a fee for helmets or purchase other required items from a list, but the association sponsoring the team is responsible for acquiring safe spaces for practice and game day, as well as equipment that meets safety standards.

Athletic training coverage for practices and or games.  The athletic trainer will provide injury assessment, injury prevention and provide rehab for athletic injuries.

Gear up

Use the right sports gear. Once you’ve got a list from the coach, make sure your child is outfitted with the right shoes, helmet, pads, and other gear recommended for the sport. All these items help children perform at their best and may keep your young athlete from a serious injury.

Fitness for the field

Get your child a preseason physical so a doctor can help ensure the youngster is mature enough and healthy enough to play a sport. Be sure to talk with your doctor about which sport your kiddo wants to play, as different sports often require different levels of fitness.

Pregame strategy

Coach your child about the dangers of playing or practicing when hurt or sick. A minor strain that typically resolves with rest and ice can become a major sprain or even a break when your child tries to push through the hurt and finish a game.

Shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles are at high risk for injury when practices go too long, especially if your child has noticed pain or discomfort in or near these joints.

Overall health can become an issue if your child returns to activities too quickly after a viral illness or tries to play with a fever, cough, or other ailment. Dehydration is always a concern in sports and can occur very quickly when you’re sick.

Eat healthy

Young bones, joints, tendons, and muscles require the right balance of nutrition to grow and perform their best. Include healthy fats, fresh fruits, lean protein, raw veggies and foods containing calcium and other vital minerals in your child’s diet.

Most kids balk at a diet that’s “good for them,” but they might be more enthusiastic about a diet that helps their muscles grow so they can swing a bat faster or throw a ball farther.

Prevent overuse by varying the sport

A child who focuses on only one sport means not participating in something else they might enjoy just as much, or even more. Overuse injuries, such as tendonitis, also become a potential issue when your child uses the same muscles every day for the same sport.

If your child plays soccer in the fall, consider joining a swim team in the winter to give knees, ankles, and hips a break from soccer’s high-impact workouts. Or take a season off and keep the whole family active with biking adventures or some other fun physical activity.

Make sure practice workouts are also balanced and include age-appropriate endurance, strengthening, and stretching exercises.

If you’re not sure your child is ready for a certain sport or is using the right form when exercising, make an appointment at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists for a fitness evaluation and other information regarding the healthy way for kids to approach sports.