Make Safety a Priority for Student Athletes

Northwestern Medicine
Orthopaedics August 13, 2012

Sports football helmetSports participation is an excellent way for young adults and teenagers to stay healthy and active. However, without attention to safe play and proper training, injury is a real risk. The CDC* estimates that high school athletes suffer two million injuries annually. Injury has potential to not only ruin an athlete’s season, but in some cases cause long lasting problems. While not every injury can be avoided, student athletes and their parents can work together towards a healthy, successful sports season.

Careful conditioning and proper training is needed to prevent sports injuries, particularly for children who are still growing. Diving into intense workouts may cause injuries which may delay the start of the sports season or even force the athlete to sit out entirely. Young athletes should ease into training, starting with cardiovascular workouts to build stamina then progressing to strength training that targets the specific muscles needed for their

When in training, young athletes should focus on three major factors that affect sport performance: hydration, nutrition, and rest. With practice for many fall sports beginning in the summer, hydration takes on even greater importance. Drink water before, during and after activity to decrease the risk of heat-related illness. Athletes who want to compete at a competitive level need proper nutrition and plenty of rest. At the high school and college level, too many young athletes try to run their bodies on unhealthy food choices and too little sleep making them more prone to injury and limiting their ability to perform.

Even when conscious of proper conditioning and safe training, most competitive athletes will experience an injury at some point. Recognizing the signs of an injury and listening to one’s body will help limit damage and hasten recover. Pain is the body’s way of signaling that something is wrong, but many athletes ignore their pain attributing it as a normal part of sports participation. When athletes dismiss injuries, not only does it threaten ending their season but also future ones.

For more information on sport safety, read this press release.

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