Tips for Preventing Child Sports Injuries

If you have a child who has fallen in love with a sport or other activity, the last thing you want is to see them forced to sit out due to an injury.

But while it can be easy to fall into thinking that kids have boundless energy and can shrug most anything off, that simply isn’t true in practice. Sports injuries can sideline children just as commonly as they do adults. Even worse, trying to ignore them or “walk them off” can easily lead to more severe and longer-lasting problems.

So yes, it is important to address sports injuries promptly and properly if they occur. But an even better route for kids and parents to take is to not have an injury happen in the first place!

Taking some simple steps now to help your child prevent sports injuries is a great investment for both you and your young athlete. Not all injuries can be avoided, unfortunately, but having a prepared and preventative attitude can greatly reduce not only the risk, but also the damage and recovery time of many injuries if they do occur.

Whatever the activity, keep this advice in mind.

Kids Sitting on the Beach

Ensure Your Child is Properly Equipped

The best equipment for preventing sports injuries is not only appropriate for the activity involved, but appropriate for your child as well.

Good equipment is made to accommodate and account for the various forces someone may endure during an activity. Footwear should never be overlooked in this case – do not have your child wear just standard “sneakers” for heavy use in activities such as running, basketball, or other sports that include repetitive impacts and/or quick pivots. Shoes that are designed specifically for these sports will support your child’s feet best.

Be wary of hand-me-downs and worn out equipment. If an item does not properly fit your child or does not seem reliable, don’t use it. Ask a coach or other expert if you are uncertain.

Encourage Good Technique

Having proper technique is just as important as having proper equipment. Being trained in the right stances and responses to specific situations can greatly reduce the risk of injury due to an improper balance of weight and forces in the body. Consistency and discipline are key in technique, as that one time it’s not done right can be the one time someone gets hurt.

You don’t necessarily have to be an expert in technique yourself to be a source of encouragement. If your child is participating in an activity with a coach or trainer, ask them if they have noticed anything your child should be working on, and help them refine it at home.

Focus on Warming Up

A very common cause of sports injuries in all ages is overuse, in which the body is forced to endure an intensity or length of activity it simply isn’t prepared to handle. 

Taking a few minutes to warm up before a game or other period of intense activity can help reduce the risk of injury through overuse. You don’t have to worry about trying to get your kid to hold a bunch of static stretches if they don’t like to, either. The best kind of warm-up incorporates more dynamic stretching such as light jogging, lunges, toe touches, and knee-highs.

Mix in Some Variety

We know a child might get excited about one activity to the point of obsession (actually, we know many adults who are the same way). But focusing on working the body in the same ways all the time can increase the risk of overuse injury.

An alternative that is much better for both injury risk and overall performance is mixing activities up more with cross-training or different sports. Not only can this help reduce constant stress on specific areas of the body, but a more holistic approach to conditioning can also benefit overall performance.

Cute athletic little boy playing excitedly in a flag football game

Mix in Some Variety

We know a child might get excited about one activity to the point of obsession (actually, we know many adults who are the same way). But focusing on working the body in the same ways all the time can increase the risk of overuse injury.

An alternative that is much better for both injury risk and overall performance is mixing activities up more with cross-training or different sports. Not only can this help reduce constant stress on specific areas of the body, but a more holistic approach to conditioning can also benefit overall performance.

Incorporate Rest Time

Pushing day in and day out with few or no breaks is just asking for trouble. 

When we challenge our bodies through activity, we literally break them down on a cellular level. Rest is when our bodies rebuild and come back stronger. But when the breakdown outpaces the recovery, bones and tissues can weaken to the point of injuries such as stress fractures.

Cross-training and variety can help provide much needed rest for areas of the body, but actual days of lower-impact activity or off-seasons away from intense sports can be essential as well. Please talk with us, your primary care physician, or a fitness expert on what type of rest schedule would best benefit your child’s activity level and needs.

Address Problems and Injuries Early

If and when a child does experience a sports injury, they may either not fully understand how much they are injured or be afraid to tell someone about it.

As a parent, you know your child’s behaviors best. If you notice them moving differently – such as limping around or throwing more gingerly – do not sit on it. Check on your child, and make the call to remove them from the action for a closer evaluation.

If your child has persistent pain during or after activity, pain that does not respond to rest, persistent swelling around a joint, or is in sudden pain after an injury that results in an audible pop, contact us. And frankly, contact us for any other concerns you may have about your child’s orthopedic health. There is no worry too minor to talk with us about.

Dr. Michael Shea, one of the more recent additions to our team, is well-experienced in both family medicine and sports medicine. He or another of our experts will be more than happy to see your child and determine an optimal plan of treatment to get them back to full action, if one is required.

Call our Carmichael Office at (916) 961-3434 or fill out our online contact form.

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Carmichael Office

6620 Coyle Avenue,
Suite 202

Carmichael, CA 95608

Roseville Office

576 N Sunrise Avenue,
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Roseville, CA 95661

Phone: 916-961-3434

Text: 279-800-4542

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