By Guest Blogger, Mathew Foster
There are few things worse for a parent, than being forced to watch as their formerly active, sports-loving child sits prone on the sidelines, nursing a serious knee injury. And yet knee problems put literally thousands of budding young sports-men and women out of action each and every year. It is not uncommon for children to sprain, strain, fracture or even dislocate their precious joints – whether they are out on the sports field or just messing around with friends. Fortunately, there is much you can do to prevent the incidence of knee injuries in children. Read on to find out more. And visit KneeSafe.com for additional knee injury prevention tips.
Wear the right protective equipment
When your kids take to the sports field – both during practice and actual competitive matches – make sure they are always wearing the appropriate protective equipment. For example, kneepads (coupled with shin guards) – as well as helmets and other protective devices – will ensure their precious joints, and other areas, remain well shielded against heavy blows and impacts. Wearing the right shoes, that offer precisely the right combination of support, flexibility and traction that is required for the activity at hand, will also go a long way in preventing injuries.
Remember to warm up – and cool down
Make sure your kids remember to warm up – and afterwards, cool down – before they take to the field. This will ensure their knee joints are flexible and supple, and will thus reduce the risk of knee injuries. By the same token, cooling down afterwards, will mean their knee joints and the surrounding muscles don’t remain overly taut and tense, which can also increase the chances of a strain or sprain. There are lots of fun warm up exercises (star jumps, tiggy or tag, lunges, stomach crunches, bear crawls, gorilla walks) which you can play with your kids, or have them do together with their siblings.
Improve the strength and flexibility of their joints
Just as with adults, children can foster strong and flexible knees by engaging in regular exercises and stretches – including straight leg lifts, side leg lifts, hamstring curls, calf raises, and the like. Yoga is another increasingly popular activity on this front as well. Again there are lots of fun variations of these exercises you can do with your child to make the process enjoyable rather than a burden.
Avoid training surfaces that are too hard
Running, jogging and jumping on hard, bitumen surfaces is really hard on the knees. Practice – and where possible play – on grass, soft turf or rubber surfaces. Your knees will get a lot less of a battering that way.
Follow the right techniques
For example, when your child jumps, he should always bend his knees as he lands back on the ground. This reduces the pressure on the surrounding tendons and ligaments and reduces the risk of a serious knee injury such as a torn anterior cruciate ligament – which can put your youngster out of action for months at a stretch. When playing soccer and other sports that involve a lot of turning and twisting motions, encourage your children to crouch down and bend the knees and hips as they pivot and turn. This too will ensure their knees are protected from future problems.
Encourage your child to play!
Apart from the time spent on the sports field, your child’s body will remain fit and healthy if he or she generally leads an active lifestyle. Encourage kids to get out and play with friends, design games of chase with siblings and family – by doing this, your young’un will remain in peak shape, and will have a lot of fun also!
About Mathew Foster
You can find Mathew Foster either on the volleyball court or at the computer screen writing content for KneeSafe.com, a blog on all things knee health and safety from the best knee pads for volleyball to how to help with knee pain while running.