Score a Point for Kids' Sports Safety

Spring is perfect time to brush up on injury prevention

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SUNDAY, April 2(HealthDay News) -- As children and teens start their spring sports season, parents and coaches need to be thinking about injury prevention, say experts at the Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland.

Up to 50 percent of youth sports injuries are preventable, and parents and coaches can reduce injuries in young athletes by 80 percent if they follow some simple tips:

  • Warm up. Children should always do this first before they begin playing sports.
  • Don't overdo it. Overexertion is the primary cause of injuries in adolescents.
  • Try variety. Your child shouldn't focus on just one sport. They need to develop strength everywhere.
  • Pump iron later. Hold off on weight training until it's appropriate. Children can't develop strength with weights until puberty and they need to be supervised when they do start using weights.
  • Build stronger girls. Because they lack testosterone, girls are more susceptible to injury. Because of that, girls need to focus on strength-training more than boys.
  • Focus on fitness. Fitness training should be included in all practices.
  • Listen to pain. Young athletes should not be encouraged to push through pain.

"Children today participate in intense, competitive sports. Our goal is to keep them on the field, while taking an aggressive approach to maintaining the health of at-risk growing bones and cartilage," Michelle Cappello, a physical therapist at Children's Hospital Oakland, said in a prepared statement.

"A young athlete's body is still developing. Injuries sustained during childhood have the potential for long-term consequences, including the premature ending of an athletic career or preventing an active lifestyle into adulthood," Cappello said.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers a safety guide for young athletes.

SOURCE: Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland, news release, March 22, 2006

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