Don't play through pain or injuries

September 03 [Sat], 2011, 18:49
Over 3.5 million youth sports injuries occur each year, yet the majority of these incidents can be easily prevented by taking precautionary steps. Here are six tips on how to help children avoid injuries while participating in any youth sports program: Monitor daily/weekly activity to avoid overuse - Each year, as many as half of all youth sports injuries are the result of overuse. Overuse injury, which happens over time from repeated motion (such as throwing a baseball too many times), is completely preventable by implementing variety, moderation and rest during practices and games. Bones and muscles are still under development in children, and overuse leads to 1.25 million injuries that require medical treatment annually.

Use proper footwear - Approximately 1 million ankle injuries occur each year, and 85 percent of them are sprains. In addition to stretching properly, the shoes an athlete wears can make a world of difference in preventing sprains or other ankle and foot injuries. Most studies suggest that wearing tightly-laced, high-topped shoes is most beneficial. Stretch Properly - Warm-up exercises, such as stretching and light jogging, can help minimize the hazard of strain and soft tissue injury. Stretching prepares the muscles for physical activity and allows blood to flow through them. Once a game or practice is complete, cooling down exercises loosen the body's muscles that may have tightened during the exercise. Encourage both "warm-ups" and "cool-downs."

Stay hydrated - Children produce more heat during exercise than adults, yet they actually sweat less - which increases the risk of dehydration. Dehydration can lead to heat-related illnesses such as heatstroke, cramps, etc. Young athletes need to drink plenty of water before games and practices as well as during them. Make sure your child takes frequent water breaks.

No matter what the sport, wear a mouth guard – Mouth guards are effective in the prevention of minor injuries to the teeth, lips, tongue, face and jaw. Furthermore, mouth guards can help prevent serious injuries to the brain (concussions) and roots and bone that hold the teeth in place. If you need convincing, consider this - in 1962, mouth guards became a requirement for high school and college football.
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