Guard Against Sports Injuries

AAP banner.jpgIt’s that time of year again when the weather is getting warmer and kids are filling soccer fields and baseball diamonds for spring sports. Do you know how to prevent sports injuries in your kids? Here are some great tips brought to you by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Injury Risks
All sports have a risk of injury. In general, the more contact in a sport, the greater the risk of injury.

Most injuries occur to ligaments (connect bones together), tendons (connect muscles to bones) and muscles. Only about 5 percent of sports injuries involve broken bones. However, the areas where bones grow in children are at more risk of injury during the rapid phases of growth. In a growing child, point tenderness over a bone should be evaluated further by a medical provider even if minimal swelling or limitation in motion is appreciated.

Most frequent sports injuries are sprains (injuries to ligaments) and strains (injuries to muscles), caused when an abnormal stress is placed on tendons, joints, bones and muscle. As always, contact your pediatrician if you have additional questions or concerns.

To reduce injury:
•    Wear the right gear. Players should wear appropriate and properly fit protective equipment such as pads (neck, shoulder, elbow, chest, knee, shin), helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups, and/or eyewear. Young athletes should not assume that protective gear will protect them from performing more dangerous or risky activities.
•    Strengthen muscles. Conditioning exercises before games and during practice strengthens muscles used in play.
•    Increase flexibility. Stretching exercises before and after games or practice can increase flexibility.
•    Use the proper technique. This should be reinforced during the playing season.
•    Take breaks. Rest periods during practice and games can reduce injuries and prevent heat illness.
•    Play safe. Strict rules against headfirst sliding (baseball and softball), spearing (football), and body checking (ice hockey) should be enforced.
•    Stop the activity if there is pain.
•    Avoid heat injury. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise or play; decrease or stop practices or competitions during high heat/humidity periods; wear light clothing.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 pediatricians focused on the care of children. Check out their great Parenting Corner for the latest medical information for your child.

Are your kids playing a sport this spring?

A Healthy Heart by Travis Walters, M.D.

It’s February and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. What better time than Valentine’s Day to think about heart health? Do you need to make any lifestyle changes?
Check out this article by Travis Walters, M.D.

Did you know that the number-one killer of American women is not cancer like many women think? It is actually heart disease!

Woman_Eating.jpgWhy Heart Health Is Important
parents take care of their newborns, most quickly realize that if they
are not healthy themselves, their babies cannot receive the best care.
If mothers are not physically, mentally, and emotionally energized,
care and decision-making for their newborn will suffer. But it does
stop there. As children grow, they require guidance to help equip them
for the “real world.” This necessitates parents with healthy
lifestyles. Kids learn from parents every day and emulate the actions
they see.

Take Stock
What can you do to improve your influence on your child? You can make some important lifestyle choices.

  • Control your blood pressure. Have your blood pressure checked regularly. High blood pressure is considered 140/90 mmHg and above.
  • Control blood cholesterol. Have your total cholesterol checked at least once every five years, along with a lipoprotein profile which shows a more specific breakdown of your total cholesterol.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease.
  • Control diabetes. Aiming for a hemoglobin A1C less than 7 percent reduces the risks from diabetes.
  • Sustain a healthy weight. Target a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9.
  • Exercise regularly. Strive for at least 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity, four to six days per week.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. Keep fat calories to less than 30 percent of your total calories and avoid saturated fats. A diet that contains a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, grains, fish, poultry, and lean meat is best.

By making these changes, you not only will improve your own health, but you also will become a healthy role model for your child.

Recommended Resource
The American Heart Association’s Food Certification Program helps you easily and reliably find heart-healthy foods that are certified by the AHA.

Travis Walters, M.D., is a pediatrician at Green Hills Pediatric Associates in Nashville, Tennessee. Travis and his wife, Rebecca, have two children, Olivia and Caroline, and are expecting their third in June.

**This article was originally scheduled to run in our February 2009 issue of ParentLife. If you would like to see more information, this pdf (HeartHealth.pdf) provides the article in its entirety.**