Mighty Blog

Tips for handling sports injuries and kids

Sports and physical activity help children and teens build strength, learn new skills and learn about the value of teamwork. However, even with all the precautions coaches and parents take, more than 3.5 million kids are injured each year playing sports.

Are kids more prone to getting injured?

Whether they play high-impact sports such as hockey and football or low-contact activities like dance, track or swimming, kids can and do suffer injuries. Because their bodies are still growing, young people are even more prone to sports injuries than adults. Most injuries in young athletes are due to overuse, with the most common being:

  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Stress fractures
Sports team, girl soccer and kick ball on field in a tournament. Football, competition and athletic female teen group play game on grass. Fit adolescents compete to win match at school championship.

How can I help my child if they’ve been injured?

If the injury is serious, the first thing to do is take your child to an emergency room. Children’s Minnesota has emergency rooms in both Minneapolis and St. Paul.

For less-severe injuries, here are some things you can do at home:

Treat swelling

Many sports injuries can be treated with the RICE system, which stands for:

  • Rest – This one is pretty simple. Don’t use the injured body part!
  • Ice – Place an ice pack on the injured area for 15-20 minutes several times a day.
  • Compression – Wrap the area in a compression bandage to restrict blood flow.
  • Elevate – Using pillows or cushions, make sure your child’s injured leg, foot, arm or hand rests above their heart.

Let them rest

Many kids may be eager to get back in the game but going back too soon can lead to new injuries – or worse, long-term consequences that could prevent them from playing at all. So, it’s important to help your kid focus on a full recovery before getting back in the game.

Support their mental health

Young athletes often feel frustrated, sad or anxious when they can’t keep playing. You can provide emotional support to your child by talking openly about what happened and listening to their concerns without judgment. Also, encourage your child to keep in touch with friends and teammates as they recover. Keeping them connected with peers will help them feel less isolated and more comfortable, especially if they can’t attend school at first. If you see signs that your child’s mental health is suffering, talk to their doctor.

Can young kids, even those who haven’t hit puberty yet, lift weights to help prevent injuries?

Yes, strength training for kids as young as 7-8 years old is OK. But:

  • Only use light weights.
  • Lift no more than three times per week.
  • Only lift under the supervision of a coach.

What else can I do to support my kid athlete and prevent the risk of injury?

Here are some quick tips for you to hell keep your kid athlete healthy and active:

  • Avoid specializing in only one sport to prevent injuries due to overuse of sport-specific muscles and limbs.
  • Make sure your kid takes at least one day off per week to allow their body to recover.
  • Stretch before and after each activity session to increase flexibility.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Wear the right protective gear like helmets and pads.
  • Stop playing if it hurts.

Dr. Chawla shares more

Dr. Gigi Chawla, chief of general pediatrics at Children’s Minnesota, shares more tips with WCCO.