Childhood Sports Injuries and Their Prevention

A Guide for Parents with Ideas for Kids

You are sitting in your office and suddenly the phone rings. "Ms. Ramirez? Your son, Raoul, was injured during football practice. His knee may be badly hurt. He is going to County General. Please go to the emergency room right away." You try to remain composed, but you can feel panic creeping through your body. With your breathing shallow and heart pounding, you drop everything and try to remember how to get to the hospital.

In the past, Raoul has only had scrapes and bruises, like most kids his age. You recall being hesitant to let him play a rough sport like football that requires considerable physical contact. But you decided not to keep him from playing his favorite sport. This is your child's first major injury.

Preventing Injuries

Childhood sports injuries like Raoul's may be inevitable, but there are some things you can do to help prevent them:

  • Enroll your child in organized sports through schools, community clubs, and recreation areas where there may be adults who are certified athletic trainers (ATC). An ATC is also trained in the prevention, recognition and immediate care of athletic injuries.
  • Make sure your child uses the proper protective gear for a particular sport. This may lessen the chances of being injured.
  • Warmup exercises, such as stretching and light jogging, can help minimize the chance of muscle strain or other soft tissue injury during sports. Warmup exercises make the body's tissues warmer and more flexible. Cooling down exercises loosen the body's muscles that have tightened during exercise. Make warmups and cool downs part of your child's routine before and after sports participation.