Injury Prevention for Children

When I was a young gymnast, my mother had trouble watching me compete on the balance beam.  She said the beam just looked so big and I looked so small, and a fall from that height seemed dangerous.  Fortunately, I grew and the beam remained the same height. Yet, as I got older the injuries were much more frequent due typically because of overuse.  These injuries included sprains, pulled muscles and strains and were an everyday struggle.

Recognizing and preventing possible sports injuries in your children can be challenging.  A good beginning is to understand the common injuries within your children sport.  Parents, coaches, former athletes, and sports medicine practitioners will be able to provide this information.  Some of the most common across many sports are:  sprained ankle, pulled groin and  pulled hamstring. There are also excellent resources online including a website named Youth Sport Parent, which addresses many issues in youth sport beyond injury.

A very popular concern for youth sport injuries today is the overuse injuries that can be caused by chronic play without adequate rest and recovery.  This is a particular concern with some youth sports becoming more specialized encouraging participation in the same sport (and the same sport specific movements) year-round. One of the best things a parent can do is listen to their children talk about how they feel, both physically and mentally.  Furthermore, a parent can follow up with more questions to clarify something their child said.  This can be a simple, but very useful, way to get a better understanding of when rest is needed.

Parents can also talk to their children about both hydration and stretching in and out of their sport training and review muscle pull prevention tips.  Experts on youth sports medicine have encouraged more dynamic, rather than static, stretching during warm up in order to loosen muscles and increase heart rate before vigorous exercise.

Understanding injury prevention in sport will be different for each athlete.  The factors in which an athlete becomes injured can include various physical, emotional, and mental elements.  For parents, it isn’t necessarily only a concern for that one big fall, but a process of understanding the risk and assessing the needs for rest.  Lastly, and most importantly, a parent can help young athletes to begin to understand themselves better especially in terms of a possible risk and the need for recovery.