According to statics of John Hopkins Medicine, around 3.5 million US children aged 14 or under are injured doing organised sport. This is out of an estimated 30 million that take part. It would seem logical that a similar percentage of teen sports injuries occurs in the UK and other countries. We encourage teenagers and young people to be active. This helps them stay fit, fight off illnesses, maintain stronger mental health and make friends. However, their bodies are still growing, so they must be careful not to push themselves too far.
What kinds of teen sports injuries are there?
The most common kinds of teen sports injuries are strains and sprains in joints like the ankles strains, knees sprains, shoulders injury, wrists sprain etc. This generally stems from misuse of the area in question, falling awkwardly or traumatic contact with another player. Head injuries are one of the most serious types, with immediate professional medical help required and careful monitoring. Sports that see a lot of head injuries include cycling, skating, skiing and skateboarding.
Some sports are also more dangerous than others, although all forms of physical activity carry some level of injury risk. Contact sports like rugby or boxing are statistically more dangerous than solo sports like swimming or gymnastics, for fairly obvious reasons. Teen sports injuries tend to happen more during practice session and training than in matches.
How to protect against teen sports injuries
There is plenty you can do to help your teenager or child stay safe on the pitch, court, playground and in the gym or studio. Here are some ideas.
- Always have the right protective gear. This includes mouthguards that should ideally be fitted to the person by a dentist. Other essential kit includes helmets, knee and elbow guards and shin pads
- Choose the right footwear. Trainers, boots etc must fit properly and comply with the relevant quality standards. Check with your child’s coaches about the right type of studs required and type of surfaces that will be played on
- If you see anything that could be unsafe on the pitch, court or ground, speak up. This could be an unanchored goal net, patch of spilled water or trailing ropes creating a trip hazard.
- Always warm up and cool down, including plenty of stretching to protect the muscles from strains
- Never play through pain. Always alert someone immediately so you can receive the right help
- Attend all training sessions and pay attention to ensure safe play and good techniques. Listen to any corrections given and apply them straight away
- Cross-train with other sports and physical activities. This will help you use all your muscles and building up overall strength and fitness.
- Consider adding conditioning activities to your routine like yoga, Pilates, running or circuit training to prevent teen sports injuries.
- Eat healthily to keep your energy and stamina up. Choose well-balanced meals and snacks with plenty of water. Limit the use of sports drinks as they can contain a lot of sugar
- Give yourself plenty of time to rest and recover between matches or training sessions. Try to encourage good sleep patterns.
- Attend your allocated physio sessions to ensure any injuries sustained are cared for correctly. Book an annual check-up to help spot any potential problems.
How adults can be a good role model
In order to help prevent teen sports injuries, we can do a lot around modelling best practice. For a start, if we want teenagers to get active, we should show them the benefits by taking part in sports ourselves. Always warm up and cool down to demonstrate the benefits of doing so. Show your young people some good exercises and stretches to do to prevent teen sports injuries. Stop when you feel your body needing a break.
Whenever your child is taking part in sport, discuss their exercises and activities with them. This not only motivates them to carry on, but alerts you to anything that might be amiss in what they are being asked to do. Keep in touch with coaches, captains, teachers and physio support staff to help you understand what’s involved.
Finally, make sure your teenagers have the right kit to rehabilitate them after being injured. Things like braces, sports wraps, knee supports and wrist straps can make a huge difference. Speak to an expert to ensure you choose the right type and size for maximum effect.