As adults, we take precautions to pamper our aching backs. Yoga classes, massage therapy, and extra care when lifting and playing sports help avoid unwanted pain. It’s easy to forget, however, that even our children, with their flexible, young backs, can sustain back injuries. Next time you’re enjoying flying a kite or tossing the ball around with your kids, remember this checklist. It can help keep their backs in tip-top shape and prevent accidents that can turn play-time into hospital-stay time.
- Wear and play on proper equipment. Some injuries occur suddenly. While broken bones, ligament problems, or spinal cord injuries happen accidentally, wearing proper protective gear can prevent potential problems. Improper field equipment also can attribute to broken bones. For example, during baseball, sliding into an immobile base can result in a broken leg, ankle or back injury. Breakaway bases are the best bet.
- Check for a safe playing surface. A child can learn a hard lesson by falling on a concrete surface. Check for an even playing surface, without holes or random objects lying around. A wooden track or basketball court for high impact sports can be easier on the back, legs, and feet than concrete.
- Find out if the coach is ready for an emergency. No matter what the sport, the coach should be trained in first aid and CPR to properly care for the child’s injury before the paramedics arrive or the doctor takes over.
- Make sure the team warms up sufficiently before a game. Warm-ups before practices and games prepare muscles and bones to stretch and move properly. That involves a gradual increase in activity that gets the muscles moving and slowly increases the heart rate. Stretching should not replace warming up.
- Don’t let your child overuse muscles, ligaments, and bones. Trauma from repetitive flexing, then overextension, twisting, or compression of the back muscles from soccer, football, weight-lifting, gymnastics, wrestling, and diving can cause lower back pain known as spondylolysis, even in children.
- Give their injuries time to heal. Let the doctor recheck the child before returning to the sport. If the injury is not fully healed, not only can it be hurt again, but other parts of the body that compensate for the injury can start to hurt due to overexertion.
Don’t be afraid to ask your pediatrician for a referral to an orthopedic specialist, like those at Azalea Orthopedics. Doctors who see these specific conditions each day know the best treatment plans to get your child safely back on the playing field.