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Help Your Young Athlete Stay Healthy

Being active and playing sports can be an important part of childhood development. Help keep your child safe with these tips to prevent sports-related injuries.

boy playing baseball, health tips for young athletes

More American kids are playing sports than ever before. It's great news—physical activity helps children stay fit and feel good about themselves. But injuries can happen.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sports and recreation-related injuries are common. These injuries send more than 2.6 million kids age 19 and younger to emergency departments each year.

Related: Start Your Kids on a Heart-healthy Path

Kids aren't small adults. Their bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are still growing. This means they're more susceptible to injury. However, there are ways to ensure your young athlete plays it safe. Follow these tips to help prevent sports injuries:

Get cleared

Before playing organized sports, your child should have a physical exam. A physician, nurse practitioner, or qualified clinician can do this.

Get in gear

The right equipment can make all the difference. Make sure your child has the right protective gear for the sport and that the gear fits properly and is in good condition.

Watch the weather

Your child needs time to adjust to hot or humid environments before playing. This can help prevent heat-related injuries or illness.

Stretch it out

Have your child work on flexibility before and after games and practices to help release muscle tension and prevent injury.

Related: Help Your Child Deal with Bullying

Drink up

Ensure your child stays hydrated. Encourage your athlete to drink plenty of water before, during and after activity.

Pay attention to pain

Teach your child to listen to their body and avoid playing through pain.

Plan on some rest

Kids should take breaks during practice. And they should have at least one day off a week from playing sports so their bodies can recover.

Be a role model

Communicate the importance of safety to your athlete. And teach by example—wear safety gear, and follow the rules when you participate in sports.

Sports can help kids socially, emotionally and physically. Help your child stay safe and in the game.


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The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

References: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; American Academy of Pediatrics; Safe Kids Worldwide


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