Sports and recreation are important parts of a healthy, active lifestyle for kids. But injuries can and do happen. More than 2.6 million children are treated in the ER each year for sports and recreation-related injuries. But parents can take steps to help keep kids safe on the field, the court, or wherever they take part in sports and recreation.
1. Who’s at risk?
- Sports involve a certain amount of risk, so those who play or compete are at a higher risk for injury.
- Twice as many males as females suffer sports-related injuries. That is partly because of the types of sports males and females play. Contact sports have higher injury rates.
- Children between 5 and 14 years old account for almost 40% of all sports-related injuries. The children in this age group are less skilled at assessing risks and have less coordination and slower reactions than adults.
2. What are the most common types of sports-related injuries?
- Ankle sprain
- Groin pull
- Hamstring strain
- Shin splints
- Tennis elbow
- Knee injury
3. Why are sports-related injuries on the rise?
- More people are taking part in organized sports.
- Children are taking part in high-level, year-round, young-age competitions.
- More kids are taking part in one specific sport before their teen years. This can cause severe overuse injuries like stress fractures.
4. How can we prevent sports-related injuries?
- All children and teens should have a physical exam before starting new sports.
- Activities should be supervised by an experienced or trained coach who understands and enforces game rules.
- Make sure playing fields and areas are safe and well-maintained — no tripping hazards, holes, exposed sprinklers, broken glass.
- For team sports, be sure to match and group children based on skill level, weight and physical maturity — especially for contact sports.
- Make sure kids use the right protective gear for their sport, such as helmets, wrist guards, knee or elbow pads. Make sure gear is in good condition, fits and is worn correctly all the time.
- Every workout should start with a gentle warmup.
- Make sure children don’t play when tired or in pain.
- Be sure your child’s sports program or school teaches athletes ways to lower their chances of getting a concussion or other injury.
- Watch the temperature. Allow time for child athletes to gradually adjust to hot or humid weather to prevent heat-related injuries or illness.