Young people take up sports and physical activity to help them develop confidence, lead a healthier, and more satisfying life, and avoid any chronic illness that can develop as a result of lack of physical activity (e.g. diabetes, obesity, etc.).
Unfortunately, many athletes can end up in pain, and in poor health due to sports-related injuries.
The number of young people taking up sports has increased tremendously. With this surge comes an increase in sport-related injuries. An estimated 5.5 million young athletes are treated for sport-related injuries a year.
The most common sport injuries are:
Sprains and strains;
Achilles tendon injuries;
Pain along the shin bone; and
Fractures and dislocations.
Injuries for young athletes become problematic as they are difficult to treat due to their bodies not being fully developed.
Here are 8 tips for injury prevention in young athletes:
Time off: take at least 1 day off a week to allow your body to recover and rest.
Take breaks: during practice sessions and games, take a break as needed. This will reduce your risk of injury and heat stroke.
Use proper equipment: every sport requires equipment. Ensure you are using the right equipment and that it fits properly. Helmets are especially helpful to prevent concussions and brain injuries.
Drink plenty of fluids: stay hydrated before, during and after practice/games to avoid heat-related illness.
Build muscle strength: do conditioning exercises before games and during practice; to strengthen muscles you use during play.
Increase flexibility: stretch before and after practices/games to increase flexibility.
Use proper technique: coaches and trainers will teach this throughout the season. Pay attention and follow their lead closely.
Play safe and fair: avoid harmful activity, such as headfirst sliding (e.g. baseball, football), spearing or headfirst contact (football), and body checking (ice hockey), which can also lead to more aggressive behaviour amongst athletes, such as fighting.
Emotional stress on young athletes is another health concern of medical professionals. This emotional stress is produced by the pressure to win and make coaches and families happy. Emotional stress can wreak havoc on the body’s physical well-being, especially in developing children.
One tip for youth coaches is to judge the players on effort, sportsmanship and hard work. Reward your players for trying hard and for improving their skills, rather than punishment or criticism, after losing a game or competition.
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