1. Be fit first. Your child should be in proper physical condition for his or her sport before participating.
2. Get a physical exam. Take your child to the doctor before he or she begins participating in sports.
3. Know the proper techniques and rules of the game. Make sure your child is using the right positions and postures when playing.
4. Cool down and warm up before practices and games—and before any physical activity.
5. Wear protective gear at all times. Make sure the equipment fits properly and is appropriate for the sports in which your child is participating.
6. Stay hydrated. Make sure your child drinks adequate water or sports drinks before, during and after exercise.
7. Talk with the coach. Find out if your child’s coach has proper credentials, including experience coaching children and an understanding of their special needs, training in first aid, and knowledge about injury prevention and proper body mechanics, says Mathew Ryan, ATC-PTA, program manager of PAMF’s Sports Medicine and Athletic Training Department in Santa Cruz.
8. Ignore the “no pain, no gain” philosophy. If your child is too tired or in pain, he or she should stop playing says PAMF Dr. Harris.
9. Remember R.I.C.E. If your child does have a minor injury, remember Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
10. Don’t overdo it. Play only one sport per season to avoid over-taxing the body, and rest at least one day per week, PAMF Dr. Harris advises. It is also important to cross-train and avoid playing the same sport year round, adds Ryan. “Even professional athletes take at least two months off from their sport every year, and kids’ muscles and tendons need even more recovery time,” he says. “You can’t use the same muscles over and over again without rest and expect to remain injury-free.”
–Palo Alto Medical Foundation
Keeping Kids Safe This Summer,
Dr. Phil Kotzan, DC