By: Carol Beck-Round | Category: Health & Beauty | Issue: December 2014
Dr. Steven Hardage at Eastern Oklahoma Orthopedic Center in Claremore points out a stress fracture on a patient’s X-ray.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, participation in organized sports is on the rise. Nearly 30 million children and adolescents now participate in youth sports in the United States. While many of the injuries are related to overuse, more than half of all sports injuries in children are preventable.
Dr. Steven Hardage, whose specialty is primary care sports medicine with the Eastern Oklahoma Orthopedic Center in Claremore, wants to see more sports injury prevention emphasized. “Because kids are playing sports year-round and participating in lots of different sports, we are seeing more injuries than we used to,” says Dr. Hardage, whose children also participate in sports. “I think, as parents, we can help our children prevent those injuries.”
To help your youngster or teenager prevent or limit sports injuries, Dr. Hardage offers the following tips:
Take time off for rest. Encourage your child to take a couple of days each week to rest and give the body time to recover. “My biggest concern,” says Dr. Hardage, “is the fact that so many sports now overlap. For example, there are athletes playing football and competitive soccer at the same time. This causes increased demand on the body and an increased risk of overuse, which can lead to injuries such as stress fractures and strains.”
Along with that is the importance of parents listening to their kids’ complaints about pain. “If they are complaining about pain, take them seriously and make sure they get plenty of rest,” he adds.
Another factor to consider is conditioning, flexibility and strengthening. “Kids need to gradually build up to an activity or sport instead of jumping in, especially in sports such as baseball where there is a lot of repetitive activity,” he says. “The body needs time to get used to the activity. Coordination, strength and balance activities can also help in injury prevention.”
The third factor to consider is appropriate protective equipment and appropriate technique for the individual sport activity. “It’s important that kids receive the right coaching to limit injury, such as proper throwing mechanics for baseball players and the need to keep the head up while hitting during football,” Dr. Hardage says. He also reminds parents that it is not a good idea to hand down older equipment from an older brother or sister to the next child. “It’s very important that equipment is properly fitted to the child, especially in sports like football and lacrosse,” he adds.
The fourth tip he offers is for young athletes to take a break from a specific sport. “Many youngsters are playing the same sport year-round. With that comes repetitive stress on the same body parts, which in turn leads to an increased risk of injury.” To avoid this type of risk, Dr. Hardage suggests that younger kids play different sports or cross-train during the off-season of their chosen sport.
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After 30 years in public school education, Carol Round retired and moved from Grand Lake to Claremore, Oklahoma in 2005, where she writes a weekly faith-based column which runs in 14 Oklahoma newspapers as well as several national and international publications. Three volumes of her columns have been compiled into collections: A Matter of Faith, Faith Matters and by FAITH alone. She has also written Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God and a companion workbook, The 40-Day Challenge. This past year she has written three children’s books, a series called Nana’s 3 Jars, to teach children about the value of giving, saving and spending money. All of Carol’s books are available through Amazon. In addition to writing her weekly column, authoring books and speaking to women’s groups, she writes for Value News. She also blogs regularly at www.carolaround.com. When she is not writing or speaking, she loves spending time with her three grandchildren, working in her flowerbeds, shooting photos, volunteering at her church or going on mission trips overseas, and hiking. She is also an avid reader and loves working crosswords and trying to solve Sudoku puzzles.