A healthy dose of competition is great for youngsters – that is, until somebody gets hurt. Here are four common causes of sports injuries in kids – and what you can do to prevent them.
Problem #1: No Timeout. Basketball, soccer, little league…kids are playing coached sports at a much younger age these days and often playing on several teams at the same time. But extended practice hours with no time to reboot between seasons can be too much for young bodies. Studies show kids who train year-round are more prone to injury. So limit activities to five or less days per week and take a minimum of two weeks off between seasons to allow tissues to rest and repair.
Problem #2: David vs. Goliath. We don’t have to look at class pictures to know that kids’ bodies mature at different rates. So rather than having them face the giants, make sure your kids are playing sports appropriate for their age and level of development. If they’re thrown into a game they aren’t prepared for – particularly when it comes to contact sports – the substantial height and weight differences will inevitably put them at a greater risk of injury.
Problem #3: Little Pros. Whether it’s because of the media attention sports generate or increasing pressure to win scholarships, more and more kids are specializing in a single sport as early as age 7 or 8. But early specialization puts kids, whose bones are still growing, far more at risk of injury. In fact, doctors say this one-sport-only trend has actually driven a recent spike in overuse injuries among adolescents. So rather than having your child play one sport year round, mix it up!
Problem #4: No Defense. This one is simple: your child should be wearing the right gear for their sport in and out of practice. It’s estimated that 62% of injuries occur during practice, so the after-school session is no time to be lax about equipment. Make sure it’s the correct size and fits properly; if there’s any question, ask the coach. Your kids might put up a fight about having to wear the right shoes, helmet, guard, brace, or padding, but once they see a teammate out for the season, they might just thank you.