From soccer to tennis, spring sports are underway in the Lowcountry. Youth sports provide kids with a number of terrific benefits: lessons of hard work and sportsmanship while encouraging physical activity and healthy lifestyle.
But just like adults, kids are at risk for injuries and health issues. In 2012, 1.3 million kids ended up in the emergency room with a sports injury. The most common culprit? Football, followed by basketball, soccer and baseball.
No matter what sport your child plays, there will always be a slight risk of injury. The good news is the most common ailments are preventable through proper preparation. Dr. Joseph Pawlik, Chief Medical Officer for MEDcare Urgent Care centers says, “MEDcare is a great option for spring and summer injuries and ailments, but prevention is always the best practice. Dehydration, sun burn, heat exhaustion and strains and sprains are some of the frequent items we treat - so knowing a bit about avoiding them is wise.”
Hydration is the most important factor to your child’s health. Drinking cold water regulates body temperature, which helps prevent heat sickness. It also lubricates the joints to deliver key nutrients faster.
While kids are playing sports, they should take a water break every 20 minutes and drink 5-9 ounces of water each break (depending on their weight). They need to drink water not just during, but before and after exercising. The aim is to replenish all water lost during the activity.
It’s also essential to teach your kids the signs of dehydration, which includes dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, dry mouth and low energy levels. Remind them of the importance of drinking water regularly and not just when they feel thirsty.
“Keeping an eye on your child’s hydration is important, but it’s equally important to educate your kids. They need to know to monitor themselves for those times you may not make it to their practice,” says Dr. Pawlik.
The sun is our top source of vitamin D, which helps our bodies absorb calcium for stronger bones. However, it doesn’t take long for us to get all the vitamin D we need from the sun. For kids, a sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher should protect them from sunburn and tanning, both of which are signs of skin damage. Make sure that the sunscreen you choose protects against both UVA and UVB rays; look for “broad spectrum” on the label.
Sunscreen should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before kids go outside and should be reapplied every two hours. If they’re sweating or in the water, it should be applied more frequently (every 30-45 minutes for safe measure).
Warm up and cool down
Warming up before physical activity is crucial in preparing your child for exercise both physically and mentally – plus, it’s essential for preventing injuries. It prepares the body for a more intense workout by increasing the heart rate and respiratory rate, boosting the amount of oxygen to the muscles, and stretching muscles.
For kids, some fun and easy warm-up exercises include jumping jacks, jogging in place, frog jumps and burpees. (Here’s how to do those exercises and several others.) If your child is warming up for a specific sport, they also can do a slowed down version of what they are preparing to play. If it’s baseball: low-intensity throwing and batting is a proper warm up.
Cooling down after a workout is important too. Like braking a bike or a car before coming to a complete stop, your child also needs to gradually slow down before finishing the activity. Cooling down and stretching helps slow the heart rate to a regular speed, return breathing to a regular pace, avoid stiffness and soreness, reduce risk of lightheadedness and relax muscles. Warming up, cooling down and stretching gives kids the best chance of avoiding injuries and can even improve their performance.
There is always an inherent risk of getting hurt when playing sports, and many sports injuries are simply unavoidable. If your child does get an injury while playing a sport this spring or summer, visit one of the MEDcare centers closest to you.
MEDcare centers are open 12 hours a day, everyday. They understand that illness and injury never happen on a schedule, so you never need an appointment. From cough, fever, dehydration and bronchitis to sprains, strains, fractures and lacerations – they are ready to get you and your family on the road to recovery.
To learn more, visit MedcareUrgentCare.com.