Preventing Children's Injuries From Sports and Other Activities - Topic Overview
How can your child avoid injury from overuse?
Any repeat movement or impact can cause an overuse injury such as pain or soreness, inflammation, or even stress fracture of a bone. After an overuse injury has started, it can take weeks to heal. Children and teens are most at risk of overuse injury when their bones are still growing.
Common overuse injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome of the wrist, rotator cuff injury of the shoulder, tennis elbow, Osgood-Schlatter disease of the knee, and plantar fasciitis of the foot.
To help your child avoid overuse injuries:
- Make sure that your child is using the right technique and equipment.
- Teach your child to pay attention to pain and fatigue. Pain and tiredness are the body's way of saying "slow down, recover, and heal." Sore muscles are common after a new activity, but pain can be a sign of injury.
- Make sure that your child gets enough rest and nutrition.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting one sport to no more than 5 days a week, with at least 1 day off each week from any organized physical activity. Also, the AAP suggests that athletes have at least 2 to 3 months off each year from their particular sport.1
How can your child avoid dehydration and heat-related illness?
When your child is active and not drinking enough fluids, dehydration is a risk. The muscles get tired quickly, and your child may have leg cramps while walking or running.
Playing hard and sweating without drinking fluids can cause dehydration and overheating. To prevent dehydration, teach your child to:
- Do activities during the coolest parts of the day.
- Drink water throughout the day, every day.
- Drink extra water before, during, and after exercise.
- Take breaks and drink at least every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise.
- Stop and rest if he or she gets dizzy or lightheaded or feels very tired.
- Wear clothes that help cool the body.
Before, after, and during activity, water is the best choice for children and teens. A sports drink may be useful if your child has exercised intensively or for a long period of time.