As parents that want the very best for our kids, over the years we’ve become better at accepting that we can’t control everything, nor prevent our kids from hurting themselves. Today, they may trip on the sidewalk and graze their elbow. They may even fall from the monkey bars at school and break their arm (like we did!). And in many cases, there wasn’t a thing we could do to stop it.
When it comes to sports, however, there are things we can do to reduce the risk of injuries in kids – whether they’re just starting school or about to finish. Today, the Sole Motion Podiatry team are sharing five things that we as parents, teachers or coaches can do to reduce the risk of the children in our care injuring themselves during sports.
You know how sometimes you feel great after a workout and other times you feel tired, sore and achy the next day? Your recovery plays a big role in this. Active recovery can help reduce post-exercise swelling, aches and the lactic acid build-up in the body – as well as injury risk.
Active recovery means staying physically active after the primary exercise is completed – like going for a walk to cool down after a game of soccer. This is compared to passive recovery, like when you lay down on the field after your game of soccer, ceasing movement almost completely.
Active recovery has been shown in studies to improve performance during the next game, event or round of exercise by three times, as well as dissipate over 65% of lactic acid accumulated in the body from the exercise.
Encourage your child to stay active after exercise by walking, running or playing with them – and educate them about the benefits, to foster healthy lifelong habits.
When one of our team members was a child, she had vivid dreams every single night, without fail (and still does). She assumed this to be as normal as eating and walking, presuming that everyone else had the same experience. After all – everyone sleeps. It wasn’t until the age of around 9 or 10 that she learnt that many people don’t dream – or don’t remember their dreams as she does.
Similarly, if kids are used to (for example) falling often during running, tripping over their own feet, or having their knees knock together, they may presume this is normal, and not raise it to you as a complaint. This is where your eagle eyes are key.
Keep an eye out for warning signs that something isn’t right. Talk to them, their parents or their health professionals about it. When your child comes in for their foot health check, let us know! This can save them a great deal of pain and discomfort – as well as reduce their risk of injury.
Just like how you *know* something is going to go wrong if you forget to take your sports shoes to an intense training session, kids are equally as susceptible to injury if they don’t have the right gear. Because their heads are also in the clouds (or in their phones) a lot of the time, putting aside their gear so that it’s ready to go can really help. This includes:
For many kids, life is full of endless possibilities and they can achieve *anything* if they put their mind to it. It’s a good mindset, right? Yes – but – it can also be taken out of context at a younger age!
We think to another staff member who as a 12-year-old, decided that she’d like to work towards doing the splits. Every day, she began stretching for ~15 minutes. A week in, she was talking to her mum while stretching, and said that she thought that if she stretched for 5 hours straight (or thereabouts), she’d be able to achieve the goal in one day. Her mum told her that the body didn’t quite work like that, and that it wasn’t possible. She said it was. They placed a bet. After a solid hour of stretching, she conceded. Truthfully? The 12-year-old wasn’t being silly – she just didn’t know otherwise!
Similarly, kids can go into sports with expectations or ideas that see them pushing their bodies over what they can safely handle, resulting in injury. By talking with your kids about their sports and their goals, teaching them and helping manage their expectations, they *may* make more informed decisions and reduce their risk of injury.
Finally (yet very importantly), always remember that pain never develops for no reason. There is always a cause – and where there is a known cause, there is often a solution. Many injuries and pains that we see and treat in kids start as a niggle or an ache, and when left untreated, progress into a more severe injury.
If your child is in pain, bring them in to see our podiatry team. We love helping kids stay healthy and active on their feet – and playing their favourite sports. The earlier they are seen, the better (and faster) the recovery is likely to be.