While many kids play sports year-round, summer break is often filled with sports camps and summer leagues. Whether you’re trying to help a child with ADHD thrive this summer or want to keep momentum on your New Year’s Resolution to be more active, playing sports is a great way for kids to stay fit and have fun. But just because physical activity is healthy doesn’t mean that there isn’t any danger. Here’s how to prevent kid’s sports injuries from occurring.

Don’t Skip the Stretch

Youth sports injury prevention starts with warm-ups. Many coaches start off practices and games with a stretching routines and warm-up exercises, but if yours doesn’t, it’s incredibly important to encourage your child to do this on their own. Starting abruptly with cold muscles can lead to sprains, strains, tears, and pulled muscles. In fact, one common injury is a torn ACL, which can prevent a child from playing sports for up to nine months and can even cause arthritis problems later in life.  By getting your child into good warm-up habits, you could help stave off injuries now, and later in life.

Wear Proper Equipment

Regardless of what sport your child plays, using proper equipment is essential to preventing injuries. Whether it’s knee guards, cleats, helmets, or mouth guards, using the correct size of the recommended equipment can be the difference between your child injuring themselves or staying healthy all season long.

Don’t Go All-In on One Sport

Especially if your child shows an aptitude for a specific sport, it can be tempting to focus all their energy there. But because children are still growing, it’s important to not overuse the same muscles over and over. In fact, many kid’s sports injuries come from repetitive stress and overuse problems, which are amplified by playing the same sport year-round. Especially while they’re young, try to vary the sports they play, which will in turn help them develop a wide-range of muscles without overusing any specific group. Once they reach puberty, it should be fine for them to focus their energy on one sport, if that’s what they prefer.

Know That All Coaches Aren’t Created Equal

Even when kids play all day with their friends, they’re likely not developing overuse or repetitive stress problems. But once an outside coach is involved, these injuries can increase. While you can’t always choose the person who will be your child’s coach, we recommend looking out for coaches who put too much focus on winning and who overplay talented athletes, as this practice is likely to cause these types of injuries. Especially when kids are young, the focus should be on the kids having fun, and making sure kids get enough rest is part of that equation.

Don’t Skip the Physical

While many leagues require a sports physical in order for a child to be able to play, these wellness checks are more than a formality—they’re an important part of sports safety. During these visits, your pediatrician will check your child’s growth, development, and physical well-being, which can help rule out problems that could lead to injuries.

If your child is planning on playing sports this summer, be sure to schedule their sports physical with Woodburn Pediatric Clinic today. In the meantime, follow along with our Health Education Blog for more health, safety, and parenting tips, including what to do if your child is suffering from heat exhaustion.