Important sports safety for the entire family:
Participating in sports is great for children and adults, both physically and psychologically. Sports can increase physical coordination, fitness, and self-esteem. In addition, sports can teach about teamwork and self-discipline.
However, because children's bodies are still growing and their coordination is still developing, children are more susceptible to sports injuries. Approximately 3.5 million children ages 14 and under are treated for sports-related injuries each year. Half of all of those injuries can be prevented with proper use of safety gear, changes to the playing environment, and the establishment of sports rules that help prevent injuries.
Most sports injuries occur most often due to the following factors:
lack of education and awareness about safety precautions and potential injury
inappropriate or lack of equipment
improperly conditioned players
The following are safety precautions recommended to prevent sports injuries:
Wear appropriate safety gear and equipment.
The playing environment should be safe.
Safety rules should be enforced.
Players should stay hydrated during and after sports.
Safety gear and equipment:
Safety gear should be sport-specific and may include such items as goggles, mouthguards, shin-elbow-knee pads, and helmets. The safety gear should fit properly. In addition, sports equipment (such as bats, baskets, and goals) should be in good working condition and any damage should be repaired or replaced. The playing area should be free from debris and water.
The importance of a physical checkup:
To make sure you or your child is physically fit to participate in a particular sport, a physician should conduct a "sports physical." These physicals can reveal physical strengths and weaknesses and help determine which sports are appropriate.
When is my child ready to participate in sports?
Starting a child in sports too young will not benefit the child physically. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children begin participating in team sports at age 6, when they better understand the concept of teamwork. However, no two children are alike, and some may not be ready physically or psychologically to take part in a team sport even at age 6. A parent should base his/her decision on whether to allow the child to take part in a particular sport based on the following:
Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that late-developing teens avoid contact sports until their bodies have developmentally "caught up" to their peers' bodies.
The importance of hydration:
Sweat lost during sports must be replaced with equal amounts of fluids, usually 1 to 1 1/2 liters per hour of intense sports activity. You or your child should drink fluids before, during, and after each practice or game. To avoid stomach cramps from drinking large amounts of fluids at once, drink about one cup of water (or a type of sports drink) every 15 to 20 minutes. Drinks to avoid include those with carbonation and caffeine.
The following are the most common symptoms of dehydration. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
slight weight loss
If you or your child exhibits signs of dehydration, make sure you/he/she receives fluids immediately, as well as a snack. The symptoms of dehydration may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.