Playing sports, whether a leisure pastime or serious team participation, are a great way to have fun and stay active. Enjoying the outdoors (or indoors), spending time with friends, and getting exercise are all great habits parents can teach kids early on to help them develop a life-long appreciation of exercise.
Wearing the proper protective gear is a very important part of playing sports. The correct – and correct fitting – protective gear can help keep kids safe and avoid serious injury. In addition to protective gear aimed at an individual sport, aim to teach kids about the importance of stretching. Limber, stretched muscles are less prone to injury from pulling and overuse.
“My own sons play sports and we are diligent about having them wear the proper safety gear and teaching them how to properly put it on themselves,” says Dr. Marco Coppola, Emergency Physician at The Colony ER Hospital. “If they’re on the soccer field or just riding their bikes around our neighborhood, we make sure they know safety always comes first and how the right equipment can help keep them in the game and from getting injured.”
Here’s a list of gear that kids should use for some of the most popular sports and activities:
Helmets prevent 85% of head injuries in bike accidents. Make sure you choose a helmet that meets safety standards (there should be Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) label on the box). To make certain a helmet fits properly, make certain the helmet sits low on your child’s forehead (about two finger widths above the eyebrows). The straps of a helmet should form a ‘Y’ under each earlobe. The chin strap should be secure (but not so tight that your child cannot breathe) and move the helmet up and down slightly when your child opens his/her mouth.
Knee pads, elbow and wrist guards/pads are recommended for scooters, skateboards and rollerblades in addition to wearing helmets.
Rolled ankles and falls are common in basketball. Mouth guards are recommended, as well as shoes that are specifically designed to help protect ankles and increase traction on hardwood gym floors.
Concussions are the most common football injury in kids, followed by shoulder and knee injuries. Football players should wear: a helmet, protective eye gear, mouth guard, shoulder, hip, tail, thigh and knee pads. Soccer players must wear shin guards and appropriate “boots” for soft or hard ground fields or for indoor play.
Since many football and soccer practices are held in the summer months and protective gear can increase body heat, it’s extremely important to stay hydrated to avoid heat injuries. Become aware of the signs of heat stroke: rapid breathing, red, hot, dry skin, nausea and vomiting, light-headedness and lack of sweating, despite heat. Bring your child to the nearest emergency room or call 911 if you notice these symptoms.
Shoulders, wrist, hand and head injuries are the most typical with these sports. A helmet should always be worn. While there are no specific protections for the body, youth chest protectors may be a good idea. These shock absorbing, padded vests are designed to be worn under athletic uniforms and can protect the chest from being hit by a ball.
Helmets, arm pads, and rib pads should be worn. The goalkeeper should wear a throat protector, chest protector and a mouthpiece.
Knee pads are a must. Some players wear padded shorts, which can be helpful if there’s a fall. Remember to wear shoes designed for volleyball played on gym floors. They have special soles and are shock absorbing or jumping and may protect ankles.
The blog is written by Lisa Dawson, the Director of Marketing at The Colony ER Hospital.
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