Playing sports in school is a really great way for your kids to stay active as they grow. Sports are also one of the best ways for them to make new friends and learn the importance of working with others as a team.
Team sports can play such a huge role in the personal development of your teen, but that doesn’t negate some of the safety concerns parents may have—particularly during the coldest months of the year. What are some safety tips to keep in mind if your teen plays sports during the winter months?
1. Physical Exams before the Season are Crucial
Exercising in cold weather can put more physiological strain on the body than in normal temperatures, so it’s especially important to have a physical exam done before the season begins. If someone isn’t used to working out regularly, it can put more stress than usual on the body to begin with when temperatures are low.
2. Always Wear a Helmet & Other Necessary Equipment
Cold weather can lead to slowed reaction times in the body, so wearing proper safety equipment is important now more than ever. Nervous impulses take place in the body in reaction to chemical changes. As temperatures drop, these chemical changes happen more slowly—meaning response time slows down as well.
With a slowed response time, safety equipment is crucial. Concussions are common—particularly in winter sports like football and basketball. Not only is football considered one of the most dangerous sports, but girls’ basketball is also one of the deadliest, with over 12,000 girls suffering traumatic brain injuries each year.
3. Warming Up is the Best Way to Prevent Injury
Warming up the joints and muscles is incredibly important for minimizing the chance of injury—particularly in the cooler winter months. Practicing outdoors in cold weather can mean your body isn’t as loose as it should be to play safely. Warming up a little longer in the winter can be a good idea for helping prevent injuries.
Starting out with cardiovascular activities like jogging or jumping jacks and finishing up with plenty of stretching is a great way to get the blood flowing and the joints and muscles supple before beginning intense workouts.
4. Take the Time to Heal
Cold months are an especially important time to heal because the body has been less active overall and has had less time to stay warm. If your teen has already suffered an injury, make sure they take the time to rest. Often times they’ll want to jump right back into the game, but it’s important that they give their body the time it needs to repair. When muscles are already tighter than normal in the winter, it can mean reinjuring the body is more common.
5. Staying Hydrated is Key for Injury Prevention
When you’re practicing outdoors in the heat of the summer, it’s relatively easy to remember to drink water. When it’s cold outside, however, staying hydrated can be more difficult to keep in mind. In the summer, there’s a huge amount of water loss from sweating; but in the winter, water loss from simply breathing is much greater. Cold air is much drier than warm air, so less moisture is taken in while breathing in the cold. You may not feel as thirsty while practicing in the winter, but just as much water has been lost, so it’s important to remind your teen to drink up! Staying hydrated helps prevent dizziness and even fainting, as well as muscle cramps.
If there’s one thing that’s sure to put a damper on a game it’s an injury! Make sure your teen is aware of the necessary precautions to take before they get on the field or court this winter.
Cover photo courtesy Ben Hershey/Unsplash