More and more children and adolescents are participating in organised athletic activities worldwide. Participation in any sports can teach the youth to stretch their limits and learn sportsmanship and discipline. However, any sport also carries the potential for injury. The combination of increased exposure and decreased preparedness for sports participation often lead young athletes to both acute and chronic injuries.
Children, Sports, and Injury Risk
Kids can be particularly at risk of sports injuries for several reasons. Young children have less coordinated body and slower reaction times compared to adults. In addition, children mature at different rates, having differences in height and weight even if they are at the same age. And when children with different sizes play sports together, there is a heightened risk of injury. The injury risk increases as children grow, most likely because of the amount of force involved.
Children and Challenges in Sport
Some children are untrained or unfit for the sports activity they are undertaking. Children who are generally unfit or untrained may lack core strength and flexibility are more susceptible to injury and will not be able to meet the demands of what otherwise could be a positive experience. Young athletes need proper training for sports and should be encouraged to train for the sport rather than expecting the sport itself to get them in shape. A regular conditioning program and a well-structured, closely supervised training regimen may help them prepare for sports activities.
Another challenge is that skilled children tend to overtrain and push their physical capacities to achieve high sports performance. They are often surrounded by the hype of sports and it is easy to see how they could push overtraining and burnout themselves too fast in their desire to be a great athlete. But overtraining can potentially worsen performance because of too much physiologic or emotional stress, fatigue, immune system failure, or insufficient recovery time.
Youth Sports Have to Be Enjoyable
Sports participation is an important part of learning how to build team skills. As a parent, it is important to encourage your children to be physically active. But your child’s skills should match to the sport, and not push him or her too hard into an activity that he or she may not like or capable of doing.
Youth sports should always be fun. The win-at-all-costs attitude of many parents, coaches, professional athletes, and peers can lead children to injuries. Pushing too hard to meet unrealistic expectations of others may neglect the warning signs of injury and continue to play while enduring the pain. Parents and coaches should foster an atmosphere of healthy competition that emphasizes self-reliance, confidence, cooperation, and a positive self-image, rather than just pressuring them to win.
The Role of Physiotherapy
Experts recommend physiotherapy before the season. Physiotherapists play an important role in injury screening and prevention. For any sport, injury management starts with injury prevention.
Musculoskeletal screening flags any strength, growth or flexibility issues. Once the issues are pinpointed, a physiotherapist develops an exercise programme to reduce the risk of injury. Such programme has been shown to be effective in minimising injury and help children see an improvement in technique and efficiency as a result of their improved preparedness.
Preventing injuries is far too better than treating them. We care for your children as much as you care for them. Talk to any of our Perth physiotherapist about how you can prevent your child from sports injuries at 9444 8729 today!