Back-to-School Sports Injury Prevention

Soccer goalie attempting to block a shot
School is in session, sports are in full swing and cooler temperatures make the outdoors prime for play. While we encourage healthy exercise, many of our young ones may be at risk for activity-related injuries this season. Nearly 9 million children are treated for unintentional injuries in hospital emergency departments each year.1 These 6 steps will help prevent injuries to our active children.

  1. Keep up-to-date on regular physicals. Let your child’s medical professional know if she/he intends to play a specific sport or participate in an ongoing physical activity. Ask about related safety and health concerns. Make sure your child is fit for play and that any medical issues are addressed up-front. Remember to let your child’s coach know of any medical conditions that could affect your child’s health during sports.
  2. Use proper equipment and safety gear at all times. Protect young bodies with care. Adults in charge of physical activity and sports should know proper form and be attentive. Enforce safety rules such as always wearing a properly-fitting helmet while riding a bike, and wearing proper sporting equipment when practicing; not just on game days.
  3. Warm up! Engage kids in proper warm-up activities such as jogging or jumping jacks, and stretch to prepare muscles, tendons and blood vessels for the strenuous activity ahead.
  4. Pain means stop. Muscle soreness after a vigorous play is generally expected, but a pain in joints, or swelling means it’s time to cut back on activities. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, growing children and teens with “point tenderness over a bone should be evaluated further by a medical professional even if there is minimal swelling or limitation of motion.” In case of sharp or prolonged pain, seek medical treatment. Playing through the pain can actually result in a more serious injury. When in doubt, don’t wait, take your child for a visit to the nearest emergency room.
  5. Give it a break! Plan at least 1 day off from sports or prolonged physical activity per week. Playing the same sport regularly means using the same muscles repeatedly. Give those muscles a day to rest and recover. Most sports-related injuries stem from overuse.2
  6. Hydrate! Provide plenty of fluids before, during, and after activities. Children can dehydrate even when it’s cold out. Provide warm or room-temperature drinks to keep body temperatures up when the outdoor temperatures drop.

Practicing these preventative steps can save your active child from major injury, keeping them in the game instead of on the injured list.

Find closer, faster emergency care near your neighborhood. Visit St. Vincent Neighborhood Hospital online for 24/7 emergency care locations and to learn more.



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