Help your young athlete stay healthy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sports and recreation-related injuries are common. They send more than 2.6 million kids age 19 and younger to emergency departments each year. / CTSY: MGN
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LAURIUM, Mich. (WLUC) – July 15 – 21 is National Youth Sports Week. The week serves to elevate the importance of youth sports across the nation.

More American kids are playing sports than ever before. It's great news—physical activity helps children stay fit and feel good about themselves, but injuries can happen. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sports and recreation-related injuries are common. They send more than 2.6 million kids age 19 and younger to emergency departments each year.

“Kids aren't small adults,” says Aspirus Sports Medicine Physician Dr. Colleen Dupuis. “Their bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments are still growing. This means they are susceptible to different types of injuries. However, there are ways to ensure your young athlete plays it safe.”

The right equipment can make all the difference. Make sure your child has the right protective gear for the sport and that the gear fits properly and is in good condition. Also, have your child work on flexibility before and after games and practices to help release muscle tension and prevent injury.

"It's important to teach your child to report pain to a coach or parent immediately instead of playing through it,” says Aspirus Physical Therapist Brett Gervais, DPT. “Kids should take breaks during practice and have at least one day off a week from playing sports. Also, they need to drink plenty of water so their bodies can recover."

Before playing organized sports, your child should have a physical exam. A physician, nurse practitioner or qualified clinician can do this.

Overall, sports can help kids socially, emotionally and physically. Help your child stay safe and in the game.