JUST 4 KIDS
Children are just as likely to experience a sports injury as an adult. Whilst it is easy to take for granted the apparent flexibility of children as they appear to go from zero to 100 in a matter of seconds, it is important to develop a sense of importance and responsibility for the sport that they enjoy. This whole spectrum needs to be considered from warming up, to having a good sporting approach whilst playing to deciding whether to play at all.
Warm up before playing
It’s not just the adults who need to warm up before exercise, it is as equally important that children also warm up before exercising in order to prevent injury.
Parents often take for granted their children running off to play their favourite sports and have a run about in the park, however it can be a mistake going from relaxing to running at full speed and can lead to painful conditions like pulled muscles, knee pain and shoulder problems.
Warming up doesn’t need to be difficult
For a child eager to run off, the idea of warming up beforehand is an inconvenience. Warming up can simply mean kicking a ball to you a few times and doing some gentle running in order to warm up muscles before starting a game of football. Organised groups generally start off with movement exercises before any games begin. This is a great opportunity for young muscles to be ready for a game without the associated ‘boredom’ of a warm up routine. A similar approach can be adopted at home by making the warm up routine more of a game and injecting some fun into it!
Why do Injuries Occur?
Injury can occur for a number of different reasons
Not warming up properly
Poor gaming technique
Not using the equipment in the correct way
Not taking the correct safety precautions
Over estimating fitness level, strength and endurance
Repeated excessive stresses on an immature frame
Sports injuries can occur in any sport, however it is the contact sports such as football, basketball and baseball that have the highest number of estimated injuries amongst 5-14 year olds. Football saw the highest number of injuries in this age group with an incredible 240,879 estimated injuries. This is according to the 2010 National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.
When we say estimated, this is because minor injuries can occur that go unreported where the child stays at home and recovers. Therefore the actual figure could be far higher! Incredible reading!
Sometimes injuries just cannot be helped…..
Injuries do not necessarily occur by accident. Cross country runners for example have higher levels of overuse injuries where the same muscle groups are in use continuously. Injury can occur through intense usage. Children are at bigger risk of overuse injuries as their bodies are still developing physically. Growing bones can be more susceptible to injury where pressure is being put on new areas of the body as bones grow and develop. This is especially true when entering puberty between the ages of 10 and 16.
Prevention of Injuries
Developing a routine of warming up before exercise will help children to develop a habit of warming up before exercise. PE lessons in schools are a good way of instilling knowledge into children about warming up. However warming up is not the be all and end all of playing sport and avoiding injury. Following our step by step plan below will give you more insider tips from us here at Bluebell on how your child can avoid getting injured when playing sport.
Step by step plan of avoiding injury:
Illness and Injury
Do not allow your child to participate in sport if they have an injury or illness. As much as your child loves their sport, it can do more harm than good by continuing to attend sporting sessions if your child is not in an optimum playing condition.
Abide by game rules
Injury is best avoided by playing according to game rules. This can be harder for children to understand and they can get carried away! However encouraging your child to listen to the instructor and/or coach and play as they’ve been instructed to do so is the best you can do. As with every activity you do with your child, promoting good behaviour and peer respect is sending out a positive role model example to your child.
Wear appropriate protective kit
The chance of being injured drops considerably if you invest in the correct safety equipment for your child to play sport. In the early days, clubs are normally happy to supply this before investment is made to ensure your child has sufficient interest. Otherwise, perhaps it can be borrowed from a friend who plays or brought for a nominal cost second hand. For example, when playing football, shin pads and football trainers or boots should be worn. Well cushioned supportive footwear for running and cross country is a must to avoid twisted ankles. Always familiarise yourself with the protective kit requirements for your child’s chosen sport, and ensure they wear it every time they play.
Know how to use the equipment supplied
Your child should receive proper instruction on how to use sports equipment. While most young children are happy to play football at the park with Dad on a Saturday morning, other sports need proper instruction in order to stay safe. For example, when using gym equipment, ensure that your child knows how to use it. Never guess.
Always warm up before playing
Never forget this vital piece of advice. Always turn up to practice in good time so that the warm up routine can be carried out properly.
Avoid playing when tired or in pain
If your child has had a long day at school or they’re simply not in the mood or too tired to practice then it is better missing a session. Forcing your child to go along can lead not just to avoidable injury but also a loss of interest in the sport. Like home work, there is nothing to be gained trying to do it when your child is simply too tired or unwell.
Here at Bluebell Physiotherapy, we treat many sports related injuries amongst children. In this section we take a look at the most common injuries that we come across. If your child takes part in any of the sports below, then it will be worth your time looking at possible injuries that may occur. You never know, it may put your mind to rest, as injury are not all serious. It’s important to remember that most injuries are only temporary.
Hamstring strain caused by standing still for periods of time than suddenly sprinting
Ankle strain and tendinitis in the shoulder can happen to bowlers
Back pain can sometimes occur when fielding and wicket keeping
Strains and sprains
Numbness in the fingers
With cycling falls also occur leading to cuts and bruises. Blisters can be caused from holding the handle bars for long periods of time.
Due to the wide nature of events that can take place on the sports field, the potential injuries are variable.
Of course the injuries above are not a definitive list, and many more sports injuries can occur. By following our step by step plan your child will avoid some of the nasty injuries we see here at Bluebell.
Don’t forget to cool down afterwards…..
After all that running about you might wonder why you need to cool down. Well it is important that muscles can go back into a state of relaxation gradually.
Once you have finished your game don’t forget to spend 5 – 10 minutes of gentle exercise to cool down to allow the muscles to relax gradually as believe it or not injuries can also occur by not cooling down afterwards.
Feeling left out as an adult? Next time we’ll be talking all about you so make sure you return soon to read all about it!