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As Outdoor Activities Increase, Know How to Prevent Sports Injuries Among Children

As the weather gets warmer and children particpate in more sports activities, the most common injuries among kids are sprains and strains, as well as heat-related

sickness due to dehydration. It’s best to take is slow and steady, health experts say.

As the weather gets warmer and more children begin spending more time outdoors and joining sports leagues, it’s important to take steps to prevent injuries, as many kids will play sports and may put themselves at risk of getting hurt.

With many children likely to have been channel surfing rather than being outdoors participating in physical activities during the colder and darker winter months, Kaiser Permanente Sports Medicine physician Dr. Branden Turner urges caution before jumping into a strenuous physical routine.

“It’s best to take it slow and steady, as it’s challenging to go from sitting on a couch for months to playing in a basketball tournament,” he said. “As such, don’t expect to run a marathon too quickly. I encourage parents to take important steps to protect their children’s health.”

Advice for Children

Dr. Turner noted children are more likely to be active than adults, but noted taking certain precautions are equally important for them as they are for adults.

He noted stretching, an emphasis on initial moderation of strenuous physical activity, and supervised activity such as organized sports are important criteria when it comes to safety and injury prevention among children.

“The key, once again, is a gradual introduction,” Dr. Turner explained. “Don’t jump into sports activities too quickly, and always practice safety and know your limitations.”

Consider the following statistics provided by Stanford Medicine Children’s Health:

  • Approximately 3.5 million children and adolescents ages 14 and younger get hurt annually playing sports or participating in recreational activities.
  • Additionally, sports and recreational activities contribute to approximately 21% of all traumatic brain injuries among American children and adolescents.
  • More than 775,000 children and adolescents ages 14 and younger are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries each year. Most of the injuries occurred as a result of falls, being struck by an object, collisions, and overexertion during unorganized or informal sports activities.

Dr. Turner noted the most common injuries among children are sprains and strains, as well as heat-related sickness due to dehydration once the weather gets warmer. As such, staying hydrated by drinking sufficient water or electrolyte drinks is important, as is proper clothing and exercising in early mornings or evenings when it gets warmer to avoid health stroke and other illness.

According to KidsHealth.org, playing sports can teach children to stretch their limits and learn sportsmanship and discipline. But any sport can lead to injury, and parents and coaches can make a big difference in helping kids play sports safely.

To help protect your children from sports injuries, KidsHealth.org recommends the following guidelines:

  • It’s important for kids to use proper equipment and safety gear that’s the right size and fits well. For example, they should wear helmets for baseball and bike riding. They also should wear helmets while they’re inline skating or riding scooters and skateboards.
  • Make sure playing fields are not full of holes and ruts that may cause kids to fall or trip. Children doing high-impact sports, like basketball and running, should do them on surfaces like tracks and wooden basketball courts, which can be more forgiving than surfaces like concrete.
  • Any team sport or activity that kids participate in should be supervised by qualified adults. Choose leagues and teams that have the same commitment to safety and injury prevention that you do.
  • Before starting a new sport, kids should know the general rules of the game and how to stay safe. They should stretch and warm up before practices and before games. This will help them have fun and lower the chances of an injury.

“If you’re outdoors and begin experiencing being light-headed, confusion, dizziness, chest pain or shortness of breath, seek immediate medical attention,” Dr. Turner said. “We all know that physical activity is good for us. However, doing it right way, whether you’re young or older, is the key to enjoying the outdoors in our wonderful Southern California weather, is the key to avoiding preventable injury or negative health effects.”