The athletic opportunities available to young aspiring athletes today seems to be almost limitless. Kids interested in sports started young age, try out a variety of different sports, and then in time slowly hone their interest in one or two activities they love. Participation is year-round. This can place a great deal of stress on the developing and growing body of a child. Pressure from coaches, parents and the child themselves can lead to too much activity and unfortunate injury.

To avoid this and keep your child in the game, there are a few points which should minimize the chance of getting hurt.

1. Listen to your body. As you watch your child grow, they seem to stretch, get taller, fill out, and do all this at times with sudden spurts of growth. During these times, muscles, tendons, and growing bones and joints are at risk for overuse. Listen to your child when they say their shoulder hurts after baseball practice or their ankle is sore after soccer game. This is not normal in a young person. Often coaches will tell your child to shrug it off and keep going, keep practicing, and keep playing. This is the time to use your parental intuition and say this is too much. Take them out of practice and game time for a week, 10 days, whatever it takes until the pain is completely gone. Let their growing body have a chance to recover.

2. Teach them to stretch properly. Start early. Do it often. As muscles joints and bones grow at different rates, it is not unusual for muscle groups to become tight, even in a child. One year, they may appear extremely flexible and the next, suddenly be unable to touch your toes. Check this out from time to time and help them learn healthy stretching habits to maintain flexibility and decrease their injury risk

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3. Learn proper technique. Different sports involve different mechanics. A Little League picture with poor mechanics will develop shoulder or elbow problems quickly. Core strength is more important than you realize for throwing athlete. Lower extremity flexibility, muscle quickness and strength is important to avoid ligament injuries in soccer. Understand your child’s sport and help them to develop good habits. Do some research. Speak with your doctor, trainer or physical therapist to learn more.

The benefits from sports participation to a child are huge. The life lessons learned will carry forward. Stay involved and keep them safe.

Please send me your questions and thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.