More and more American children are competing in sports than ever before. Sports help children and adolescents keep their bodies fit and feel good about themselves. And according to New Orleans orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Meyer, there are some important injury prevention tips that can help parents promote a safe, optimal sports experience for their child.
All sports have a risk of injury – in general, the more contact in a sport, the greater the risk of a traumatic injury. However, most injuries in young athletes are a result of overuse.
Most frequent sports injuries are sprains, strains and stress fractures caused when abnormal stress is placed on tendons, joints, bones and muscle.
To reduce the risk of injury, your New Orleans orthopedic surgeon recommends the following.
- Take some time off. Plan to have at least one day off per week and at least one month off per year from training for a particular sport to allow the body to recover.
- Choose the right gear. Players should wear appropriate and properly fitting protective equipment such as pads, helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups and/or eyewear.
- Strengthen muscles. Conditioning exercises during practice strengthens muscles used in play. (Your New Orleans orthopedic surgeon can recommend a few.)
- Increase flexibility. Stretching exercises after games or practice can increase flexibility. Stretching should also be incorporated into a daily fitness plan.
- Use the proper technique. This should be reinforced during the playing season.
- Take breaks. Rest periods during practice and games can reduce injuries and prevent heat illness.
- Play safe. Strict rules against headfirst sliding in baseball and softball, spearing in football, and checking in hockey should be enforced.
- Stop the activity if there is pain.
- Avoid heat injury by drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise or play; decrease or stop practices or competitions during high heat/humidity periods.
Another simple way is to take Vitamin D supplements, which are important for muscle and bone function. An estimated 40% of children are vitamin D deficient.
If you are unable to avoid injury, contact New Orleans orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Meyer to get the appropriate surgical or non-surgical care.