Being involved in school sports has so many benefits for a young person. Development of self-esteem and mental alertness make participation in school athletics important for every school aged child. Being on a sports team empowers young people to be organized and motivated academically, develop needed social skills and glorify God with their bodies.
As a parent you want your child to enjoy school sports, but you may be asking, “How can my child remain safe while playing sports activities?” Unfortunately, there is no 100% way to prevent injuries. It is the nature of the beast. However there are many steps that will help reduce the risk of injury. While you probably won't be at the practices, there are still things you can do to support your student athletes and help them to have a safe sport season. A great coach will be training your student athlete to do these things as well to make the sport enjoyable and prevent school sport injuries.
1. Have your child properly warm up and cool down.
Muscles can be injured if immediately forced to perform without proper warm-up. It is important to take care of the muscles before and after exercise. Exercise will cause inflammation within the muscles. There are many ways to bring down the inflammation naturally. The first is ice and is one of the most common methods used within sports. Another is massage which will help the muscles slowly return to their working order. The third is natural anti-inflammatory supplements like black currant seed oil or turmeric.
2. Make sure your child has a good pair of shoes that are comfortable on the feet.
As a chiropractor, I know the importance of good shoes. A good pair of shoes can make the difference between ending up in a lot of pain and having relatively low amounts of pain after the activity. Selecting a shoe doesn't have to be difficult. It should never be a shoe that is based on color, looks or brand names. The main thing to look for in a shoe is its arch support and comfort. When your child steps in and laces up the shoe, it should be very comfortable. They should feel like they are walking on a cloud.
3. Make sure your child has the proper gear.
A school athletic program will let you know what gear is needed. This can include shoes, pads, bicycles, and many other items. The proper use of these is extremely important. The gear is meant to protect the participant from injury. Make sure the equipment is in good working order and properly fitting. This will allow the equipment to do its job in protecting the participant.
4. Make sure your child does not participate if they are injured.
This is a very hard one, especially if the student could possibly be up for a scholarship or award. Playing when hurt can have long term ramifications. Many small injuries can lead to much more serious injuries that may require surgery or that result in a long term disability. Watch your child closely. Many times a child may be nursing an injury, but will be reluctant to tell you because they want to do the sport so much. If you feel your child has an injury, please get it checked out by a doctor (MD or chiropractor). They should be able to tell if the injury is serious.
5. Make sure your child is using proper form.
A good coach will help guide a student to achieve proper form. Proper form has made the difference in many races and sports. For example, I saw a video of Hussein Bolt, the Jamaican runner, next to the USA runner, Gatlin. Bolt had perfect form. Upon inspection, Gatlin had his legs moving at a strange angle. Gatlin lost the race by 1/100 of a second. If his form had been proper, he probably would have won the race.
6. Make sure your child is drinking enough water.
One of the biggest issues when competing in sports is hydration. The body needs water and electrolytes in order to perform properly. If a person is dehydrated, serious injury can occur. The participant should hydrate before, during and after the exercise. While it is OK to use drinks like Gatorade and other sports drinks to get electrolytes, the main liquid should be water. Most of the energy drinks contain too much sugar to truly be healthy or helpful.
7. Make sure your child takes breaks.
Taking breaks during the activity and exercise can reduce the risk of injury and heat sickness.
8. Make sure your child knows the rules of the sport and abides by them.
Most injuries in sports occur when the rules are not followed. Most rules are designed to keep a sport safe. By abiding by the rules, your child can reduce the risk of injury.
9. Tell your child to not be afraid to tell someone if they are injured.
There are many people who remain quiet when they are injured. As a result, nobody knows they are hurt and a minor injury can turn into a major injury. Most of these injuries are preventable if they let someone know.
10. Make sure your child eats a healthy diet.
The body needs proper balance of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. An unhealthy diet will miss proper nutrients that are needed for the body to work properly. If your child has strange symptoms when training, many times it can be due to a nutritional deficiency.
As a parent, you will always be the best advocate and protector of your child. By following these simple rules, you can limit the risk of injury to your child while playing sports at school. If things do not look right, if your child looks injured or if they have strange symptoms, please follow up on that. There may be an underlying issue that can cause further injury to your child. If you suspect something, please get it checked with your local MD or chiropractor.