There are many advantages to your kids participating in group sports and athletic activities. They get a chance to learn about physical fitness, improve their concentration skills and boost self-esteem.
While there are many valuable benefits, playing sports can potentially be a risky activity. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, injuries caused by youth sports account for nearly 3 million emergency room visits each year.
Most Common Sports Injuries in Kids
Some of the most common sports injuries for kids are overuse injuries, concussions and sprains.
- Overuse Injuries: “An overuse injury can happen after focusing on one sport for an extended period or when taking on too much physical activity too quickly,” says Lawrence Stankovits, M.D., pediatric orthopedic surgeon at JFK University Medical Center. “These injuries can vary from stress fractures to tendinitis.” About half of kids’ sports injuries are the result of overuse.
- Concussions: “A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that’s caused by a mild blow or bump to the head,” says Jonathon Lentz, D.O., pediatric orthopedic surgeon at K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. “When the head gets hit, the sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce against or twist in the skull.” Adds Evan Curatolo, M.D., pediatric orthopedic surgeon at JFK: “Concussions involve a temporary loss of normal brain function. They usually are not life-threatening but should be taken seriously.”
- Sprains: When you have a sprain, you have stretched or torn the ligaments that connect your bones to joints. “Sprains—more specifically ankle sprains—are some of the most common sports injuries in kids,” says Amit Merchant, D.O., pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center. “A mild sprain can be cared for at home, while a more severe case may require surgery.”
5 Ways to Prevent Injury
It’s important to encourage your children to play sports safely and in a proper manner. Our doctors provide tips for better preventing sports injuries in kids:
- Warm up and cool down. Your child should be doing a warm-up and cool-down before and after they participate in sports. A light warm-up will improve mobility, increase blood flow and improve posture. Cooling down should be focused on the gradual decrease of heart rate and sweating.
- Use proper form. Every sport has proper and improper ways to play. Your child should be shown the correct techniques and form by their coaches and trainers. If you are able, help them practice polishing their skills during off-seasons.
- Wear proper and protective gear. Depending on the sport your child plays, they may need a helmet, padding, mouthguard, eye protection, cleats and protective cups.
- Encourage nutrition and hydration. Your child should be drinking fluids, whether that be water or a sports drink, before, every 20 minutes during and after they are playing. This is even more crucial in hot and humid weather. Also be sure your young athlete is eating a well-balanced diet and maintains a regular eating schedule.
- Don’t let your child participate while they’re injured. When an injury is sustained, get help as soon as possible. Don’t let your child push themselves while they are in pain. Make sure they are fully healed before they return to play.
Next Steps & Resources:
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.