We all know those kids. The athletes who spend as much time on rehab as they do on the field. The ones who experience heart break after heart break; torn ligament after broken bone only to rehab and fall again.
Why do some kids seem so unlucky?
Some of it is just dumb luck and some of it is just the way we’re put together. Each of our bodies is unique in the way we distribute weight, how we handle impact, move, bend, respond. Some kids can take hit after hit and they tuck and roll and jump right back into play. Some...not so much.
So, can an injury-prone player change their luck?
Not entirely, but the good news is there are ways to potentially lessen the frequency of some injuries and improve prognosis when injuries do occur.
- Maintain healthy weight. Athletes who take care of their bodies with good nutrition day in and day out will get back on the field faster and have less ground to cover than those who don’t.
- Build muscle (especially core) and leg strength. Good biomechanics go a long way toward avoiding injury. Athletes who are not naturally gifted in that area should develop superior core strength which, in turn, aids balance. Muscular soccer players, for example, are less likely to get knocked off their feet.
- Rest! If an athlete pushes too hard, too soon, she can undermine the healing process and prolong recovery time.
- Avoid over use. In the off season, it is highly beneficial to cross train. This allows the athlete an opportunity to develop lesser used muscles and prevent breaking down the body.
- Keep participation age appropriate. Athletes today are training harder and younger and often, to their disadvantage. Seven year olds don’t need to be on the field six days a week. Younger children are still developing and their bodies are not yet ready for the rigors of older, elite athletes. There are no concrete guidelines, just use common sense and keep training in balance.
- Most of all, don’t panic! About 95 percent of youth sports injuries are considered “soft tissue” injuries, minor pulls, sprains and strains, injuries that usually resolve themselves in a couple of weeks. In fact, most kids’ sport injuries respond well to the tried and true “RICE” method: rest, ice, compression, elevation. So they can get right back at it...again.