For some kids, spring means the start of baseball season. Other youngsters, meanwhile, opt to stay active by competing in track and field. The rules and equipment may differ greatly, but one thing unites both sporting events: safety should always be the No. 1 priority. The Greatist explained that injuries are quite common in track and field and include calf muscle tears, bursitis of the knee, bulging discs, high ankle sprains, pinched nerves and knee ligament slips. Keep your child running and leaping upward and onward by following these five helpful safety tips:
"All runners must be aware while on the field, lest they cause an accident."
1. Practice courtesy on field
Your average track and field event can be a little chaotic with so many people taking part in a number of events. That's why Runner2Runner said that proper safety begins with being conscious of what's going on nearby. Your child may unknowingly wonder into someone's lane, and that can result in injuries to either competitor. Make sure he or she knows to pay attention to what events are happening where, to always yell "track" while passing someone during warmup runs and to never wear headphones on the field. As an added bonus, behaviors like courtesy and awareness – can be applied later to other parts of life.
2. Warm up and cool down
As with any sport, young athletes shouldn't just jump directly into their events. As Life360 explained, every athlete needs to take the time to warm up. That means proper stretching and dynamic movements like lunges. Competitor Groupsaid that to get the best warmup possibl, they should always go for long-hold stretches; these will better prepare the body for the strain of running. Just as important as the warmup is the cool down, which lets the body slowly de-escalate and better protects a runner from injury. All cool downs should include more stretching and running in place. During both warmup and cool down, your child should drink plenty of water.
3. Choose the right shoes
Whether your child's enrolled in the 100-meter dash or javelin, shoes are an important part of his or her safety and overall performance. Runner's World magazine explained that there are several considerations when buying running shoes. Many people are unaware that running shoes tend to have different sizing scales than, say, dress or work shoes, and people routinely buy the wrong sized shoes. Have your child try on both shoes to be sure, and double check there's enough wiggle room in the toes. Your young athlete should also leave some slack in the shoelaces, which helps spread the load of running over the entire foot. Never try on shoes without socks; though subtle, there is a difference in foot sizes while wearing socks.
4. Train hard and smart
Children are at risk for injuries even as they prepare for events. That's because, as Moms Team explained, many young runners tend to overdo their training. You want your little superstar to work hard and continue to improve, but his or her health should always be a priority. During training, make sure your child maintains a consistent volume, and if he or she wants to increase these efforts, make sure to allow a few weeks to adjust before making further adjustments. As an extension of this, kids should always stick to the same training techniques. A change in exercises and the resulting re-acclimation period can have a huge strain on the body.
"Runners should eat a small meal before any event."
5. Nutrition and hydration are key
Because of the sheer effort involved in many track and field events, it's especially important that your little athlete has the right nutrients available. Frank Pucher coaches high school track and field. Speaking with MF Athletic, he said that eating right is vital for runners, especially during early events. Something small but loaded with protein – like a bagel with peanut butter – offers tons of energy but won't make the runner feel sick or bloated. Water consumption should start at least three hours before the race, and your child needs to rehydrate regularly. Don't go for sugary drinks, which can have a number of harmful side effects.
Runners and their families can always rely on their local CareWell Urgent Care Center for all their health needs. Not only does CareWell offer a fast and convenient place for your child's sports physical, but also each facility's team of doctors can treat and address running-related injuries from muscle tears to assorted aches and pains.