5 Fitness Safety Secrets for Kids

Family Health, Featured Article, Fitness
on August 1, 2011
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Back to school means back to the sports field for many kids. Follow these five simple steps from SafeKids.org to keep your junior athlete healthy and injury-free this season, no matter the sport.

1. Get physical. Schedule a pre-participation physical to lay the foundation for a safe season, and identify any existing health conditions, allowing you make smart decisions on the field. Fill out this form before your appointment for a smooth visit.

2. Drink up. Encourage hydration before, during and after practice and games to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke, says Douglas Casa, director of athletic training education at the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut. Have your child drink water at least 30 minutes pre-play, and every 15-20 minutes during.

3. Train right and rest up. Fifty percent of sports injuries result from overuse and repetitive motions, according to SafeKids.org. Avoid them with two simple steps. First, focus on strength, coordination and flexibility, not sport-specific skills, during preseason conditioning. Second, encourage rest. Young athletes should get one to two days off from practice per week and limit themselves to one sport per season. Do encourage them to play multiple sports throughout the year to promote natural cross training. If you suspect an injury, see your doctor.

4) Know signs of a concussion. These brain injuries can happen in any sport, says Gerard Gioia, director of the SCORE Concussion Program at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Ninety percent of all concussions occur without the loss of consciousness, so it’s important to monitor your child if he or she receives a bump or blow to the head. If you suspect a concussion, look for these signs, and see your doctor right away:

  • forgetfulness
  • clumsiness
  • confusion
  • personality changes
  • headache, dizziness, blurry vision
  • sensitivity to light and noise

5) Get the right gear. Be sure your kiddo is outfitted with well-fitting gear, whether helmet, pads, mouth guard, or goggles, both during practice and play. Avoid purchasing gear or using hand-me-down items—especially helmets—that are too big, thinking she will grow into it. Look each item over before the start of the season for any cracks, wear or other deterioration that might affect its level of protection, and replace if necessary.