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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can i prevent my child being injured while playing sports?

    My child plays lots of sports, is there something I should be doing as a mum to minimize the chance of a sports injury?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Jason Tomlinson

    Personal Trainer

    Make sure your child does a proper warm up and cool down for each sport, which should include stretching which will help reduce the risk of injury during play. Make sure they wear suitable protective gear for each sport they play, i.e shinpads for soccer and hockey, a mouthguard for rugby and hockey, helments fo bike riding and skating etc.

    They should also stay well hydrated throughout an activity, which can either be from water or a sports drink or both. 

    If your child has a particular medical condition make sure they are cleared to play sport and that the coach and team members know, so if symptoms present then team mates can spot them also.

  • Mark Brown

    Physiotherapist

    Mark is an APA Sports Physiotherapist with over 25 years experience with a special interest and expertise in performance enhancement and injury prevention. View Profile

    There is very good evidence that specific lower limb neuromuscular training programs can help to reduce the likelihood of sports injuries in children, adolescents and adults. Neuromuscular training refers to exercises that improve strength, balance and coordination and should be as specific as possible to the demands of the sport and should be used for general training and as part of the warm up program.

    Overtraining and fatigue are known risk factors for sports injuries though, so adequate rest and recovery is also particularly important in growing children and adolescents. Proper nutrition and hydration is also important for injury prevention as well as improving performance.

    Appropriate protective equipment, well maintained sports fields and facilities, and adherence to the rules are all also factors in reducing the likelihood of injuries in children as well as adults in sport.

  • I am a specialist sports physiotherapist with a sub-speciality in adolescents in sport (as awarded bu the Australian College of Physiotherapists in 2007). In addition … View Profile

    Great answer by Mark Brown. 

    I might also add that sports injuries are more common in the 13-19yrs age group compared to the 5-12yrs age group - this may be due to a number of factors such as:  normal maturational changes that occur at puberty, both physical and non-physical; an increase in the competitiveness of sport in the teenage years and/or a change in focus from fun/participation in childhood to competition in adolescence; an increase in the intensity, volume and frequency of sport/training; rule changes - often there is modified rules in childhood and adult rules for adolescents.

    In terms of the neuromuscular control that Mark spoke of, it would seem that females may benefit most from these training programs as females generally have poorer nmc as a result of normal maturation compared to males (that does not mean that nmc programs are not important for males too) and it would seem that the ideal time to put in place such a program would be at or around puberty.  Females are more at risk of non-contact injuries so the way they move (nmc) is very important in relation to injuries.  It is also very important to monitor load in female adolescent athletes as females, maybe due to their nmc, seem to get injured more quickly as the load increases than males. 

    Adolescent males appear to have more contact related injuries and so training on appropriate collision/landing/going to ground techniques is important and this is part of my contact sport programs.  Another aspect of contact related injuries is risk taking behaviour, risk taking is hallmark of adolescence, especially in males.  Good game plans where players know their role within the team may help reduce risk taking behaviours.  Risk taking behaviour is heightened in stressful situations so we often see it more when your team is losing or coaches/parents are yelling from the sideline, so the interactions between those on the sidelines and players on the field can make a bit difference.  The good news is though, that whilst teenage boys do sustain a lot of injuries, they actually do not sustain very many major injuries.  From personal experience, we will record many many injuries after a weekend of school sport, mainly to males, and most are completely fine by the Monday. 

    So males and female becoming increasingly different at puberty, and this leads to different types of injuries and different reasons for injury, so the injury prevention programs should also be different, as should sports training. 

    As a mum, it is important to be supportive of your child, encourage them to be physically active, encourage a variety of sports, seek professional advice early for any injury, perhaps get your child ‘screened’ at or around puberty for any risk factors, especially to assess neuromuscular control, watch them play, but don't yell from the sideline, ensure the coaches are well qualified, maybe even get your child to keep a basic traiing diary so they can monitor themselves.  But always remember, the risk of injury in sport is actually fairly low and the benefits of physical activity and sport far out weighs any risk of injury and not to be physically active places greater risk on your long term health

  • Dr. Melinda Ricci has a passion for optimizing health and preventing injury. Success Chiropractic has a Pediatric treatment facility, remedial massage, yoga and pilates classes … View Profile

    I agree with the above experts but would add that getting any small injuries attended to can often help to prevent more serious injuries down the track. Minor ankle sprains if left untreated can lead to instability so it is important to ensure that RICE protoctol (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is followed and rehab exercises are performed.

  • Tim Lathlean

    Exercise Physiologist

    A motivated and proactive postgraduate student at Monash University majoring in sports injury surveillance, applied sports psychology and sports science. Tim also works in clinical … View Profile

    Hi, as outlined above, there are a number of strategies you can employ to help reduce the risk of injury for your child. At this age, it is very important that they receive exposure to a range of different sports, developing the motivation for participating in a safe but competitve environment. Further to what has been suggested above, please see my post on the SportinMind website as to how you can optimise performance and reduce injury by monitoring sleep in elite junior athletes:

    http://www.thesportinmind.com/articles/optimising-performance-and-injury-prevention-by-sleep-monitoring-in-adolescent-athletes/

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