Workouts to Help Prevent Sports Injuries
Sports participation is a leading cause of injury in young people. Injuries can have
both short- and long-term consequences. An injury can immediately sideline a player.
This puts both the fun of participation and the health benefits of exercise on hold.
An injury that keeps a child out of the game over the long-term can increase the chances
of gaining weight, becoming less fit in general, and even possibly developing arthritis
in later years.
It may not be always possible to avoid injury when playing sports, especially physical
contact sports. Participants can help protect themselves by properly preparing before
and after a game or practice session by warming up muscles and then stretching.
How to stretch properly
Whether the activity is skiing, running, or playing a group sport such as basketball
or football, stretching keeps the body flexible. That can cut down on injuries, knee
and ankle injuries in particular. Stretching again after activity should be part of
an injury prevention plan, too.
Before any kind of physical activity, including stretching, the body needs to be warmed
up with some light exercise. Walking, running in place, or doing jumping jacks for
a few minutes will warm up muscles.
Once muscles are warm, they're ready for these stretches:
Forward lunge. Kneel on one knee. Place the other leg forward at a right angle (knee
right over ankle). Lean forward to feel the stretch in the inner thigh. Hold for 20
to 30 seconds. Switch legs.
Side lunge. Stand with feet far apart. Bend one leg and lean toward that knee. Hold
for 20 to 30 seconds. Bend and lean toward the opposite leg.
Standing quad (thigh) stretch. Use a wall or chair for support. Raise one foot behind
you. Use the hand on the same side of the body to grasp the foot at the ankle and
pull it toward the buttocks, stretching the thigh. Keep the knees close and hips forward.
Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then release. Switch legs.
Seat straddle lotus. Sit down with the soles of the feet together in front of you.
Press knees to the floor. Place the forearms on the inside of the knees. Push down
as you lean toward the ground. Lean forward from the hips. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
Side seat straddle. Sit on the floor with legs spread apart. With both hands, hold
onto the shin of one leg. Lean forward, chin to knee. Hold for 20 to 30seconds. Switch
Seat stretch. Sit with legs straight out in front. Holding shins or ankles, lean forward
from the hips. Bring the chin toward the knees. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
Knees to chest. Lying on the floor, bend knees and bring them to the chest. Rock gently.
Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
After every workout, repeat these same stretches to help the body cool down and increase
flexibility while muscles are still warm.
Tips for success
Recommendations include the following:
Don't bounce when stretching. Bouncing in a stretch can cause damage.
Take it slow. There's no prize for finishing a stretching routine first. Go slowly
to get all the benefit.
Stay fit year-round. It's a good idea for your child to keep in shape even during
the sport's off-season so that he or she is ready for competition when it starts up
Find the appropriate gear for your child to wear. Protective equipment that fits properly
and is well-maintained and designed specifically for the sport being played should
help reduce injury.
Respect an injury. If your child already has a sprain or other injury, check with
the pediatrician or sports trainer before he or she gets back into action.