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Sports Injury Prevention

Can sports injuries be prevented?

Many sports injuries can be prevented by learning about the sport and making sure your child has the necessary protection.

Boys dressing for football

Before signing your child up for a sport, you should consider:

  • The temperature. Cooler weather is safer.

  • The playing surface. Some surfaces will reduce the impact on your child’s joints, reducing injuries.

  • Traffic. Sharing the road with automobiles can raise the risk of injury.

  • Gear safety. Broken or unsafe helmets, pads, or surfaces can cause injury.

  • Rules of play. Strict enforcement of rules protects participants.

  • Medical evaluations. A check up before the season can find hidden problems

Your child will need the following:

  • Protective devices, such as pads, helmets, and gloves

  • Time to gradually increases his or her activity to avoid doing "too much, too soon"

  • Shoes that are appropriate for the sport and fit properly

  • Rehabilitation of any previous injuries before continuing or starting a sport

  • Safety gear and equipment

Safety gear should be sport-specific and may include such items as:

  • Goggles

  • Mouthguards

  • Protective pads for the shin, elbow, and knee

  • Helmets

Make sure your child's safety gear fits properly. Also, make sure all sports equipment, such as bats, baskets, and goals, are in good working condition. Repair any damage or replace the item entirely. The playing area should be free from debris and water.

Physical checkup

Before your child signs up for a particular sport, he or she should have a sports physical. These physicals can reveal your child's physical strengths and weaknesses and help determine which sports are best. A sports physical is a health examination. Your child’s provider will ask about your child’s medical history and check his or her:

Doctor examines girl while mother watches

  • Height and weight

  • Heart and heart rate

  • Lungs

  • Abdomen

  • Vision and hearing

  • Joints

  • Bones

  • Muscles


Starting a sport too young may not be good for your child. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that age 6 is when children can understand the idea of teamwork. However, no two children are alike, and some may not be mentally or physically ready to play a team sport even at age 6. You should make your decision on whether to allow your child to take part in a particular sport based on the following:

  • Age

  • Weight

  • Build

  • Physical development

  • Emotional development

  • Child's interest in the sport

Note: AAP recommends that late-developing teens avoid contact sports until their bodies have developmentally "caught up" to their peers' bodies.

Staying healthy during play

Children who play hard will sweat. This sweat must be replaced with equal amounts of fluids. This means your child should drink lots of water before, during, and after each practice or game. If your child doesn’t get enough fluids, he or she may get dehydrated.

Give your child about one cup of water (or a type of sports drink) every 15 to 20 minutes during heavy exercise. Avoid drinks that have carbonation and caffeine, such as soda, energy drinks, or coffee. Also, children in hot, humid weather can become dehydrated even faster. You should consider decreasing or stopping the activity when it is too hot.

The following are the most common symptoms of dehydration. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Thirstiness

  • Weakness

  • Headache

  • Dark-colored urine

  • Slight weight loss

If your child shows signs of dehydration, make sure he or she gets fluids and a small snack immediately. The symptoms of dehydration may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always check with your child's provider for a diagnosis.

Sports Injury Prevention - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: Akin, Louise, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically-affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 2014-07-31T00:00:00
Last Modified Date: 2014-07-05T00:00:00
Posting Date: 2008-11-30T00:00:00
Published Date: 2014-08-05T00:00:00
Last Review Date: 2007-03-30T00:00:00
© 2016 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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