A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Wear sports safety gear, don’t get sidelined

skater girl wearing pink pads

Wearing the safety gear recommended for sports and activities prevents minor and serious injuries.

Shin guards, kneepads, helmets, masks and more.

If you’re wondering whether kids need to wear this gear when participating in sports, consider the serious injuries that could happen if they don’t.

Sports injuries send 1.35 million kids to U.S. emergency rooms each year, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. Many injuries are preventable with proper safety equipment.

Know required and recommended safety gear for your child’s sport

Required and recommended safety gear varies by activity.

Some sports require safety equipment for competition. Visit the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association website or your state’s school sports organization page for specific rules.

Kids shouldn’t skip wearing safety equipment when they’re not competing, said Sam Voight, a Marshfield Clinic licensed athletic trainer.

“If it’s required for team play, it’s highly recommended for practice and pick-up games,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of athletes who have had to sit out because of an injury sustained when they weren’t wearing the recommended equipment.”

If safety gear is recommended but not required, it’s still a good idea to wear it, Voight said. The same advice applies to solo activities like rollerblading and skateboarding.

Avoid serious injuries

Safety gear won’t prevent all bumps and scrapes, but it can help your child avoid serious injuries like lacerations, bone bruises, fractures and even death.

Serious injuries can sideline kids from sports for the rest of the season or permanently, Voight said.

Seek medical attention if your child experiences any of these symptoms after a sports injury:

  • Uncontrolled or significant bleeding
  • Significant swelling or discoloration
  • Limited range of motion
  • Injury that persists longer than a few days

“If your child has an injury, we can care for it and get them back in the game as quickly and safely as possible,” Voight said.

Spread the word about injury prevention

Kids may resist wearing safety gear for practice and recreation if it’s uncomfortable or their friends aren’t wearing it.

Parents, coaches and athletic trainers should talk to kids about how the equipment will protect them and risks of not using it. Encourage them to wear safety gear so it becomes more acceptable among their friends and teammates.

“It might not be comfortable, but that’s a small price to pay for staying active,” Voight said.

Learn how to fit your child for a bike helmet.

Learn how to fit your child for a football helmet.

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