5 Injury Prevention Tips To Teach Your Child

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Amy_Gilbert

5 Injury Prevention Tips To Teach Your Child

Posted 22 Sep 2019

Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation

Amy Gilbert

5 Injury Prevention Tips To Teach Your Child

Since it’s the start of a new school year in the UAE, I wanted to highlight common injuries in children that I see in our clinic. And things that parents should be aware of now that your children are back to sitting at their desks for 6 hours or more each day, and possibly starting new sports or other ex-curricula activities.

There are a few key differences with injuries and risks of injuries in children and adults, and a few tips for injury prevention that you should know about.

Tip 1: Talk to your kids

The number one difference that we find with kids and even in teenagers who have sustained injuries - is that their tendency to be able to ignore the signs of pain, and their threshold for dealing with it, appears to be much greater than for us adults. For this reason, it is advised to mention to your child that any pain or ache they experience, is better addressed in its early stage.

Tip 2: Teach good posture

Children and teens with poor postural habits tend to complain of mid back pain and tiredness. We can all move into that poking chin, drooping shoulder posture type, but with young children and teenagers they tend to need some cues to correct this. We recommend keeping it simple and leading from the front. Show them by doing it yourself.

  • Remember to sit up straight and ask your child to imagine a string pulling them upward from the top of the head to elongate them.
  • When your child is spending time at the keyboard or writing, teach him to practice the “hands up” position with elbows at his side. This helps depress and retract the scapulae. When he returns to his keyboard, try to encourage that he keep the same shoulder position. Even if the only cue for him to do this practice, is “hands up”, we have found that the postural improvement is significant enough to make a difference.
  • Postural and back issues are sometimes the result of heavy school bags. I recommend keeping backpacks to a reasonable weight and carrying them using both shoulder straps to counteract unbalanced posture.

With regular correction and by parents “cueing” good posture habits, the deep postural muscles should kick in and eventually the corrected posture becomes the norm. This is definitely something a physiotherapist can help with and suggest suitable cues for your child depending on their individual circumstances.

Tip 3: Be mindful of new sports

Children can be particularly at risk of injury for a few reasons. Those, especially younger than 8 years old, are less coordinated and their reaction times are slower than for teenagers and adults. With kids of varying sizes and strength playing a sport within the same age-band there can be a high potential for injury. Their judgement of the risk of injury in given situations is not always accurate resulting in them overstretching themselves and getting into risky situations during sport. These factors can result in contusions, sprains, strains and fractures which may require treatment depending on the severity.

Tip 4: Know the difference in growing pains

If your child is between the ages of 10-14 years they may be undergoing a growth spurt. A common complaint in this growth phase is anterior knee pain (in the bony area directly below the knee) or heel pain. Either of these may be a sign that your child is suffering from common growing pain conditions: Osgood Schlatters in the knee area (tibial Tuberosity) or Severs heel.

With the accelerated bony growth, the muscles and tendons can be slower in lengthening, resulting in a pull at the attachment areas which are soft bone as they are the growth plate areas. This can cause significant pain. I usually treat this as a self-limiting condition, allowing the person to decide whether they feel able to play. I would recommend having a physiotherapist or orthopedic doctor assess your child in these cases to ensure they are not at risk.

I have seen, particularly in very determined children, that while they may push through the pain – damage can be done to the growth plates and in severe cases, fragmentation with avulsion type fractures at the tibia.

Tip 5: Teach timeliness

Usually activities and sports are well supervised and, this is a given, but it may be worth reminding your child to show up in time for their activities. Studies have shown that even a short, sport specific warm up and a cool down involving stretching of the main muscle groups activated during the activity will reduce the risk of muscular strains and tensions. Activity choice is an important consideration, choosing at least one activity which involves flexibility work in order to maintain your child’s flexibility which will obviously act as a preventative measure for injury. Examples of such activities which encourage active lengthening to the soft tissue structures are kids yoga, pilates, gymnastics, and swimming.

These tips will hopefully help to keep your child injury free this term at school. If you have any questions or concerns regarding injuries, growing pains or postural issues, please reach out to me to arrange an assessment of your child.

In good health

Amy

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Paul

Paul says:

2 weeks 1 hour ago
For the 4th tip on growing pains, what is the first port of call when this happens? Is it an orthopaedic doctor at a hospital?
Amy_Gilbert

Amy_Gilbert says:

3 days 23 hours ago
Hi Paul, if there is a concern with the growth plates then an orthopaedic doctor who specialises in paediatrics is the first point of call. The first line of treatment is commonly to refer to a physiotherapist who also has paediatric experience with a keen interest in sport. But if a child is just experiencing growing pains there is not a need to seek advice from an orthopaedic doctor. If you would like further information feel free to message me.
Chantelle Alvarez

Chantelle Alvarez says:

2 weeks 5 days ago
Thankyou for the helpful tips, which are welcomed and timely advice. I need to remind myself of some of these-especially the 2nd one!
Amy_Gilbert

Amy_Gilbert says:

3 days 23 hours ago
H Chantelle I am glad that you found the tips useful. Start of school term is always a busy time anyway, and just checking in with these points can often be forgotten. And yes, they absolutely relate to us adults too!

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