Key injury Prevention Tips
Have fun and reduce the emotional stress. The pressure to win can cause significant emotional stress for a child. Young athletes should be judged on effort, sportsmanship and hard work. They should be rewarded for trying hard and for improving their skills rather than punished or criticized for losing a game or competition. The main goal should to have fun and learn lifelong physical activity skills.
Play a variety of sports. Repeated play of a single sport can lead to muscle and joint injury due to overuse or repetitive motions. Young athletes should be encouraged to play a variety of sports to increase muscle growth and strength while decreasing repetitive use injuries.
Listen to your body. It is important to pay attention to warning signs and keep track of symptoms such as unusual fatigue, loss of throwing control or pain that develops after practice or competition. These could be signs of existing or impending injury. Do not play through pain or “tough it out” as this may lead to serious injury.
Condition your muscles. A strengthening program using light weights and high intensity interval training can improve coordination and power. Throwing athletes should maintain the entire kinetic muscle chain from the legs to the core, back and arm. Postural training and exercises that stabilize the shoulder blades can help to keep the shoulder positioned correctly relative to the body.
Develop a consistent stretching and warm up routine. It is important to maintain a flexibility to avoid injury. A warm up routine that mirrors the sport being played should be performed before every practice long enough to increase the athlete’s heart rate slightly. Overhead throwing athletes should stretch the back of the shoulder using the “sleeper stretch” every day to maintain flexibility of the shoulder capsule.
Stay hydrated. To avoid heat illnesses, cramps or injuries during play, your athlete should drink plenty of fluids before, during and after practices and games.
Take a break. Most injuries in young athletes are due to overuse. The most frequent types of sports injuries are sprains, strains, and stress fractures. Injury occurs when excessive stress is placed on tendons, joints, bones and muscle. Rest periods during practice and games can reduce injuries.
Use the right stuff. Be sure that sports protective equipment is in good condition, fits appropriately and is worn correctly all the time—for example, avoid missing or broken buckles or compressed or worn padding. Poorly fitting equipment may be uncomfortable and may not offer the best protection.
Gear up. When children are active in sports and recreation, make sure they use the right protective gear for their activity, such as helmets, wrist guards, knee or elbow pads.
Tips sourced from UTMB Health Orthopedics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.