Annually, 12 million people, ages 5 to 22, suffer a sport-related injury. This results in 20 million lost days of school and about $33 billion in healthcare costs, according to the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.
This month is National Youth Sports Safety Month, the perfect time to bring some safety awareness to the track meets, ball games and playing fields at school and in communities.
To keep children in the game and having fun, it’s important that their safety be the number one concern for parents and coaches.
We’re coming up on our spring sport seasons and being aware of your body as a kid is very important especially since they are playing multiple sports at once. Preventing sports injury starts with getting fit and ready for the season, making sure you’re physically prepared, wearing the proper equipment, hydrating, eating well and doing proper warmups and cool downs.
There are several ways to keep children active while also protecting them from potential injuries.
Here are some helpful tips to practice before the next big game:
Gear up. When children play active sports, make sure they use protective gear, such as helmets, wrist guards and knee and elbow pads — in addition to any other sports gear appropriate to their activity or player position.
Use the right stuff. Be sure that sports protective equipment is maintained correctly and is in good condition. For example, without missing or broken buckles or compressed or worn padding. Poorly fitting equipment may be uncomfortable and may not offer proper protection.
Practice makes perfect. Have children learn and practice skill sets relevant to their chosen activity. For example, appropriate tackling technique is important in preventing injuries in football and soccer. Correct biomechanics, or movement and alignment, also plays a role in preventing injuries during baseball, softball and many other activities.
Be well conditioned. Be sure to safely and slowly increase activities to improve physical fitness; being in good condition can protect participants from injury.
Pay attention to temperature. Allow time for child athletes to gradually adjust to hot or humid environments to prevent heat-related injuries or illness. Parents and coaches should pay close attention to make sure players are hydrated and appropriately dressed.
Be a good model. Communicate positive messages about safety and serve as role models for safe behavior, including wearing a helmet and following the rules.
For more information on injury prevention resources visit Safe Kids | Aspirus Health Care.
Megan Stankowski is a licensed athletic trainer and Aspirus physical trainer.