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Kids: Prevent Sports Injuries

Kids playing football outside Turku

For those of you parents with kids in sports or even just school PE, sports injuries in kids can be a real problem. Pain is a difficult thing to quantify for adults and even more difficult for kids. People have different pain thresholds, I always want to run when a big strapping guy tells me he “has a REALLY high pain threshold!” That’s a big red flag for sure. Some people are stoic and describe their pain as “uncomfortable” or like a stretch, pull, or ache. Kids also have problems communicating their injuries and describing their pain or symptoms. Adults often think kids are faking or exaggerating. I find kids often have pain that adults largely minimize that then goes untreated.

Prevention is huge in sports. I find adults rarely take time to stretch before or after and this is also true with school sports. It’s interesting to me that in Health class the kids learn the importance of stretching, then may go to PE the next period and are required to do sprinting without stretching. No time! For those of you kids on team sports, you may have to take matters into your own hands. It is so important to stretch your quads, hamstrings, and calves prior to practice. Show up 5 minutes early and do it on your own. Don’t forget to stretch after working out. As your muscles cool down they will get short and tight.

After practice or a game, kids: go home and soak in a cool tub with Epsom salts. A fellow PT told me she made her kids soak in a tub of ice, OUCH!! It’s so important to avoid the swelling after extreme sports that cause pain. The Epsom salts replace what was lost while sweating. Every cell has a sodium/potassium pump. These minerals are critical for proper cell function. 20-30 minutes is plenty. Especially during daily doubles when kids are really pushed for 6 or more hours after many of them have not exercised all summer. Prevention is key. If injuries do occur, remember the acronym RICE: rest, ice, compression, elevation. If your injury is improving you are on the right track. If the swelling and pain increases over the next week, time to get it checked out.

Mary Boyd, MS, PT is the owner of Mountain View PT and a member of the Sandpoint Wellness Council. She can be reached for questions at 290.5575.

Photo: Kids playing football outside Turku (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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