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Help Prevent Spring Sports Injuries

Published in For the Health of It Author: Jessica Slavik,ATR,ATC

With spring starting and our young athletes wanting to get out and be active, it is important to take care of their bodies so they don’t get injured. As an athletic trainer, I want my athletes to be able to participate safely and enjoy the game.

Whether playing baseball, softball, golf, tennis or competing in track and field, there are certain things that you can do as a parent to help prevent spring sports injuries.

Getting a Sports Physical

Most schools require a pre-participation physical to be completed before your child can play on a sports team. Sports physicals are a very important part of participating in sports; this exam helps determine whether it’s safe for your child to participate. The two main parts of a physical are the medical history and physical exam. The medical history portion addresses medical history for the athlete as well as family medical history. The physical exam consists of assessing general body functions. The athlete’s height and weight, vision, heart rate, lung sounds, blood pressure and musculoskeletal functions are taken to make sure that they are healthy and able to participate in physical activity.

Get Active

Being in a pandemic may have caused your child to be inactive for a while, it’s a good idea to get them moving several weeks prior to starting organized activities to prevent injury. As an athletic trainer one of my jobs is to help keep athletes from injuring themselves. One major factor to preventing injury is making sure the body is ready for vigorous activity. Limiting TV time and ensuring a proper diet are a few things that can help prepare your child for activity. Making sure they are moving at least 30 minutes a day and incorporating sport-specific activities will help them get ready.

Always warm-up

Along with preparing a few weeks in advance, warming up before an activity can help prevent injuries. I constantly tell my athletes that a proper warm-up of light jogging or biking along with stretching can do wonders for your body. I recommend about 5 to 10 minutes of low-intensity, all-body warm-up. Next, I suggest at least 5 minutes of large muscle group stretching focusing on the legs, arms, hips and back.

Once Activity Starts

Once sports have started and your child is prepared for activity, we need to focus on maintenance. I tell my athletes that they need to know their body and recognize when something is wrong.

Athletes should never avoid coming to see me or their doctor to address aches and pains for fear of being told to stop a sport. Letting an injury go untreated can worsen the injury or lead to more serious complications. Your child should see a doctor or an athletic trainer whenever they have pain or another symptom with activity that is so severe they can’t exercise at all.

Along with recognizing injury, there are other important factors that go into keeping your child healthy. Help keep your child hydrated by making sure they:

  • drink at least 16 ounces of water or a sports drink one to two hours before activity
  • drink another 7 to 10 ounces about 10 to 20 minutes before activity and
  • drink 6 to 8 ounces every 20 or 30 minutes during activity

Eat Healthy

Besides staying hydrated, I tell my athletes to eat properly. Eating breakfast every day is by far their most important meal of the day. They should also make sure that they are replenishing their energy with protein rich foods and that they are not skipping meals. Discourage your children from eating too close to a workout which can cause digestive discomfort. Instead, meals should be eaten about three to four hours before exercising, or small snacks such as a banana can be eaten about an hour or two prior to working out.

Talk to your child’s healthcare provider or athletic trainer if you have any questions. Good luck and stay active! And if you do get injured, we will be here when you need us.