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Time to Get Physical.


Kugler also explains the risks that various sports carry.

Football and other contact sports carry high risk for bone and joint injuries, says Kugler. Depending on the athlete's stage of development, they may need to be more careful, or perhaps wait a year to play, he tells WebMD.

He says that in certain developmental stages, kids can be more at risk for injury than others. For example, in junior high school, some kids are growing a lot faster than others, yet they are playing on the same team.

Girls have the same sorts of injury risks as boys, he tells WebMD. "In many ways, people underestimate the amount of injury risk in some sports like soccer, which so many girls play. There are a fair number of injuries in that sport. It's really much more of a contact sport than is generally given in the media."

Some girls get into excessive exercise -- especially distance runners -- which puts them at risk for premature thinning of bones as well as problems with their periods, Kugler says. "Those things can be managed as long as they talk to their doctor about it." Doctors and parents should also keep alert to excessive weight loss and preoccupation with dieting, signs of anorexia nervosa.

Taking care of your child's health doesn't end with the sports physical. Make sure the coach is also thinking about your child's health, he advises.

"Sports are about having fun, promoting good health, competition, getting some important lessons about teamwork," Kugler tells WebMD. "Parents should always feel that the coach has the child's best interest at heart and not the team's. That's the bottom line." He suggests scheduling a time to talk with your child's coach to find out about his or her sport philosophy.

Parents should also consider whether they're forcing their child to play. "Make sure the child is participating for his or her own sake, not because the parent wants them to," he says.


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