To many Americans, nothing says “autumn” quite like the start of football season, Each year, more than 3.5 million sports-related injuries in children are treated in hospitals, doctors’ offices, ambulatory surgery centers and hospital emergency rooms in the United States. And among those injuries, nearly 450,000—about 13 percent—were sustained playing football. It’s been estimated that more than a quarter of young football players are injured while playing. Football is a wonderful game that helps improve a child’s physical fitness, coordination and self-discipline, and it can teach them a lot about teamwork, but it’s also one of the biggest causes of injury-related emergency room visits in children. Kids ages 5 to 14 account for nearly 40 percent of all sports-related injuries treated in hospitals.
There are a few things that we should be aware of during the football season.
- Heat stroke and dehydration is still a risk this time of year. The weather is cooling up north, but in other parts of the country the temps are still well into the 80s and 90s. Make sure the young athletes are properly hydrated. Replenishing electrolytes is important. **coconut water is a great natural source of electrolytes!
- Good nutrition is especially important in your teenage years. Your body needs energy and nutrients from food to grow and develop properly, and a poor diet could put that growth at risk.
- Pre-season conditioning, which should include strengthening exercises, endurance training and stretching are important in avoiding injury.
- Ensure plenty of rest on game night. Get your kids off their screens and to bed at a reasonable time to ensure proper rest. Injury avoidance requires the young athletes to be well rested and alert!
- Concussions in young athletes are not uncommon. Competition is intense, coaches may not be as educated on the high school level, and many youngsters do not want to sit out on the sidelines. Be aware for headaches, changes in cognition, mood, or behavior.
- Football is a contact sport… acute injuries are common. Most of these are soft tissue injuries such as ankle sprains; however concerns for the young athlete are injuries at open growth plates. Evaluation by a competent physician, athletic trainer or physical therapist is important because these injuries can often be missed by the untrained individual.
Football can be a fun and rewarding sport. It teaches skill, coordination, strength and teamwork. However, it’s imperative for parents, coaches and administrators to do what they can to make the game safe so that young players can continue to enjoy the game.