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Reducing Risk of Sports Injury: Tips for Parents

Injuries are a constant worry for parents of children playing sports.  You want to protect your child while maximizing the benefits of sports participation on your child's self-esteem, discipline, and fitness level.  To help keep your athlete on the field, ice, or mound, here are some tips to reduce your child's risk of sports-related injury:

  1. Make sure they get enough rest.  Lack of rest or fatigue can impact reaction time, balance, and concentration. Make sure your student-athlete gets the recommended 8 hours of sleep.Three boys of different ages with different balls
  2. Keep them on the right diet. With the chaos of everyday life, it's hard to gather everyone around the table for a nice healthy meal. Try to make sure your child athlete is getting the proper nutrition in his or her meals.
  3. Educate them about supplements.  As children enter their teen years, and sports become more competitive, workout supplements become a topic of discussion in the locker room. Educate yourself on what your child is taking.   Look for athletic training facilities in your area, many of which hold free nutritional seminars to help parents and athletes choose the right supplements for your child, or for yourself. 
  4. Make sure they are using the right equipment safely.  Make sure they have the right equipment, and that they're using it right! Second-hand equipment is fine if you are on a tight budget. Just make sure it works and protects. On the flip side, lot of schools assign equipment, but don't check to make sure it is being used properly. For example, a lot of school-issued football helmets hurt a player's head, so the player adjusts the fit for comfort.  Studies show that a poorly-fitted helmet increases the risk of head injury. Try to stress to your child the importance of using equipment the right way. If you have questions, there may be experts at a nearby athletic training facility you can turn to  to make recommendations or look at your existing equipment for safety.
  5. Teach them about concussions. Unfortunately, concussions happen. It's important that you teach your child athlete how to Identify the symptoms. It's also imperative that he or she tell someone if they think there is a chance they suffered a concussion. Far too often, athletes are embarrassed or unsure and therefore neglect to tell someone. A delayed diagnosis often means a longer recovery, or worse. 
  6. Make sure they strength train the right way. As student-athletes get older, many add weight training to their workout. The worst thing an athlete can do is just go to the gym and start lifting without instruction. Improper form or trying to lift too much weight can lead to injury. It is important that your athlete trains with injury prevention in mind, not just strength and speed. Invest in a personal trainer, perhaps one where you can work out as a family.
  7. Encourage proper recovery time.  Encourage proper recovery time. Every student-athlete wants to rush back out on the field after an injury. Without the proper amount of recovery, the odds of irreparable damage increase. To avoid long-term complications, and unwanted surgeries, injuries need to heal.
  8. Keep them hydrated. Athletes need water. Sometimes, getting a child to drink good ol' H2O is impossible, what with all the yummy sodas and energy drinks out there. These beverages often dehydrate, despite quenching thirst. Dehydration can lead to muscle fatigue, fainting and illness, and hurt athletic performance. Make sure your child athlete know the importance of staying hydrated.

Source: Athletic Evolution

Athletic Evolution is the only Nike-affiliated training facility in New England. Based in Woburn, Massachusetts, Athletic Evolution offers Youth Fundamental, Performance Training, and AE Fit Programs for athletes of every capability and age.  Its next free seminar, Nutrition for Female Athletes, will be held on Thursday, December 13 at 7 pm.  For details click here.

Posted December 11, 2012