Safety through Prevention for Athletes of All Ages

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Whether you have a child playing organized sports or you yourself enjoy playing a game of pick up every now and then, safety in athletics is important in preventing and minimizing sports-related injury.

The Right Gear

The right protective gear is critical in preventing injury. Equipment should be right for the sport and right for the athlete. Use equipment certified only for the sport in which it is being used. A helmet designed and tested for bike riding does not provide adequate protection and therefore should not be used when playing baseball.

Proper fit of protective gear is important. As athletes grow, protective equipment must change accordingly. Also, be mindful of wear and tear. According to playing tennis with a badly strung racquet and wearing worn out shoes can increase your risk of injury almost as much as playing football without shoulder pads. Coaches and parents both should monitor appropriate use and fit of safety equipment.


To help prevent injury, athletes must prepare before the season as well as prior to games and practices. Before playing organized sports, athletes need to receive a pre-participation physical exam. Also referred to as a PPE, the exam is usually mandatory for participation in most organized team sports and helps identify medical conditions.

Exams aren’t just for youth sports. It is a good idea to consult your physician prior to participation in any new activity as your doctor may be able to provide tips to help make physical activity safer for you. For example, if you have weak knees, your health care provider can show you exercises to strengthen the area, making participation safer and reducing incidence of injury.

Warm ups are essential to prevent injury. Athletes should prepare for each practice and game with a proper warm up of light aerobic activity and stretches to increase blood flow to the muscles and get them ready. The few minutes it takes to warm up can go a long way toward injury prevention. In addition, warming up prior to sports activity helps with mental preparation as well as physical preparation.

Remember to Hydrate

Important in warm weather and cool weather – staying hydrated. Water helps cool the body’s temperature. When athletes lose water through sweating, and do not replace it, dehydration or heat-related injuries or illness can occur. Drink fluids 30 minutes prior to athletic activity and every 15-20 minutes during activity. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water. When the thirst mechanism activates, it is usually a sign the body is already under-hydrated.

Participating in sports – whether organized or not – offers tremendous social, emotional and physical benefits. Don’t let injury sideline your participation. Play hard, play to win, but play it smart by preventing sports-related injuries.

For more information about the Sports Medicine Center of Thibodaux Regional call 985.493.4502.