Millions of teens across the US participate in high school athletics or club and recreational sports. Not only are these teens getting stronger and moving faster – both of which increase the likelihood of injury – but their bodies are still growing at this point, so any injuries can have significant consequences if it disrupts healthy bone or muscle development.
There’s no way to prevent all injuries from occurring in sports, but if you keep some tips in mind, you’ll significantly reduce your likelihood of suffering a spine injury during activity. Today, we share five tips for protecting against teen spine injuries during athletic activity.
Spine Safety For Teens
If you want to do everything in your power to protect against a minor or major spine injury during sports, consider these five tips.
1. Stretch – The first way to prevent against spine injuries on the field is to make sure your body is ready and warmed up for the upcoming activity. Take 5-10 minutes to stretch and allow your muscles to transition from an inactive to an active state. Failing to let your spinal muscles warm up can lead to strains, muscle sprains and ligament tears.
2. Core Conditioning – Similar to the above point, here’s another thing you can do in your free time to help protect your spine during athletic activity. Don’t just focus on your arms and legs, because your core is where your spine derives its strength from. Planks are a great exercise that strengthen the muscles in your core that can help keep your spine healthy and injury free.
3. Proper Form and Body Control – No matter what sport you play, you need to use the right movement and body positioning techniques. Not only can these techniques help you move faster, but they also help you stay safe on the field. If you play football, look up proper tackling techniques and never lead with your head. If you play baseball, practice your sliding techniques so you don’t slide late and jam your body into the base. Runners, swimmers and wrestlers can also protect their spine by learning the correct form and body control techniques for their sport, so make sure your form isn’t opening you up to injury.
4. Consider Multiple Sports – Studies have shown that athletes who specialize in just one sport at an early age and into their teens years are more susceptible to certain types of injuries than kids who play multiple sports. The reason being is that when kids specialize in one sport, they only continue to work the same muscle groups, which can eventually lead to muscle imbalances and injury. Consider picking up another sport during the offseason, or at a minimum, participating in a cross-training strength and conditioning program instead of doing the same workouts you do during the season.
5. Don’t Play Through An Injury – You’ll probably experience some bumps and bruises along the way, and while you may have to play through some pain, don’t try to play through an injury. Doing so can leave you susceptible to a significant injury. Missing a few games or practices is worth it to get healthy over playing hurt, suffering a substantial injury and missing the rest of the season. Bring up your injury concerns to a coach or team doctor, and don’t rejoin activity until you have medical clearance.