Millions of American kids play sports each year, and for many, the return to physical activity often coincides with the return to school. As adults, many people live with chronic pain or discomfort resulting and persisting from sports played during youth. Texas tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) experts say there are actually things you can do for your child to prevent a lifetime of pain, so that he or she can get plenty of healthy exercise for years to come.
“Certainly, injuries can persist and their rates increase as fitness levels deteriorate,” said Toby Brooks, Ph.D., associate professor in the TTUHSC School of Allied Health Sciences Master of Athletic Training program.
This means it is important for your children to continue getting regular physical activity throughout the year to avoid excess stress on their body when returning to athletics. It also prepares them for a lifetime of healthy physical activity as adults.
“Lack of consistent activity as we age results in a loss of tensile strength and overall tissue health, making the risk of muscular and ligament injury greater,” Brooks cautioned.
And for adults who are also returning to recreational sports this season, Brooks reminds everyone to practice regular exercise, rather than just participating in games as this will reduce the chance of experiencing an injury, or exacerbating an old one.
“The real risk for the ‘weekend warrior’ type is the expectation that an otherwise sedentary individual can pick up where they left off when they were physically active,” Brooks said. “This exposes the muscles, ligaments and other connective tissue to forces that they may have been able to handle in the past, but now the risk of muscular strain and ligament and injury is greater.”
Finally, while sports can be great way to get active at any age, Brooks cautions against participating only in a single type of exercise. He recommends building strength all over the body to protect yourself.
“General fitness activity that is consistent and varied in nature is generally the best defense against sports injury that can be lasting and worsen with age,” Brooks said.