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A Sports Safety Playbook: 4 Ways To Protect Athletes

Fitness, General

Nearly half a million children ages 5 to 14 sustained sports-related injuries that sent them to the hospital or doctor in 2020, according to the National Safety Council

But don’t let the statistics deter you from letting your children join the team. Instead, help them play safely with these tips from Robert Glatthaar, PA-C, an orthopedic physician assistant at Adventist Health Specialty Care in Paradise. 

Focus on recovery 

Children on competitive teams often spend hours a day in practice and games. This dedication can spell disaster if they can’t properly recover. Plan for rest days and at least eight hours of sleep at night.  

Don’t forget nutrition and hydration, Glatthaar recommends, especially in the summer. If children are dehydrated or hungry, they’ll be fatigued and more likely to get hurt. 

Prepare adequately 

“With the time our kids spend on screens, they’re not getting the everyday conditioning that translates to sports,” Glatthaar says. The body is more prone to injury when it’s not ready for the activity level sports require. 

Ease your child into new activity — try having a few informal practices at the park in the preceding weeks. 

Allow time to heal 

Even with all the precautions, injuries might still happen. The key to a safe return is following the treatment plan exactly and giving kids adequate time to heal, Glatthaar explains. 

“Remember, your child will have many more years of sports,” he says. “If their body doesn’t fully heal as an adolescent, they’ll pay for it as an adult.” 

Multi-Sport Athletes 

Make sure young athletes aren’t overdoing it in any one sport, which can cause overuse injuries. 

“If your child plays soccer, they’re constantly changing direction and are more likely to tear a ligament or tendon,” Glatthaar says. But adding swimming to the mix, for example, can increase your child’s strength and conditioning without the high-stress movements.