With fall sports around the corner, what can I do to prevent injuries?

When it comes to sports, injuries are typically the last things that we think about. Particularly when we are running around getting the gear and getting our schedules together, figuring out how to prevent injuries sometimes doesn't even register on our consciousness.

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One of the best parts of fall as a parent is watching your child play sports (if they choose to do so). There’s something about the crisp air, a hot beverage in hand, and watching your little one (actually, they’re quite big now that you think about it) run around on the field, court, etc. The part that’s not so awesome? When your child gets injured. EEEK! Pulled muscle, sprain, concussion; accidents do happen, but it’s always better to try to prevent and be prepared:

Have a pre-season physical examination and follow your doctor’s recommendations. 

Stay hydrated: heat, undoubtedly, needs proper training. The body needs to be pumped with fluids before, during, and after a work out. Encourage your child to drink a full 16 oz of water an hour prior to exertion. Also encourage your child to wear loose, light-colored and breathable clothing during their work out. 

Make sure muscles and ligaments are ready to go: the easiest way to prevent the over-exertion of muscles is maintain proper fitness. Injury rates are higher in athletes who have not adequately prepared physically. Before any physical activity, stretch the Achilles tendon, hamstring, and quads. Hold the stretches for at least 20 seconds each side. 

That being said, don’t overtrain: while you’re in season, listen to your muscles. Only your child knows what hurts and when it hurts. Make sure they’re aware not to push themselves over the limit if they know something’s not feeling quite right. Never play through the pain. 

Wear the right equipment: this means making sure everything’s the right size. Don’t let your child use the old “but it’s more comfortable this way” excuse. This is especially important for helmets in preventing concussions. 

Avoid running on hard surfaces like asphalt and concrete; use the softest surface possible for exercise to make it easier on the Achilles.

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Dr. Rahul V. Shah 
Board certified, Ivy League and fellowship trained Orthopedic Spine & Neck Surgeon.