As a physiotherapist we are often asked “What is the safest sport for my child?” This is always an extremely difficult question to answer because there are so many factors to consider. If we looked at kids under 19 years old presenting to the Emergency Room of a hospital then according to SAFEKIDS CANADA the top 5 sports would be ice hockey, soccer, basketball, football and baseball. These a
re the also the most popular sports in Canada, so mathematically it makes sense that there would be more injuries. Often the question presented does not have a clear answer. The risks are always relative and have many variables to consider but there are ways to minimize the risks of prolonged injury.

These include:

  • The higher the fitness level and conditioning of a child the less likely they are to get injured. (Children should be active for 30-60 minutes a day according to SAFEKIDS CANADA)
  • Get the right gear for the sport and ensure that it fits properly. Don’t buy protective equipment that “they will grow into”.
  • Kids should warm up before each game/activity and should be stretching the muscles which are used primarily in the sport or which are known to be tight on them.
  • Don’t “play through” an injury. Injured athletes should be examined by a health professional with experience in Sport Medicine.

Often the next statement by a concerned parent is “I just don’t want my child injured, so maybe they should stay away from sport. I have osteoarthritis from playing all that sport”. Our feelings on this are that the benefits of playing sport far outweigh the risks of being injured.

The benefits of sport for kids according to UKSPORT include:

  • Decreased body fat
  • Stronger bones
  • Increased co-ordination, balance and flexibility
  • Improved stamina and concentration
  • Reduced depression and anxiety

How do you motivate your child to be active in sport?

  • Tune in: Find out what your child is interested in and gently encourage them
  • Lead by example: Ride your bicycle to the store instead of using the car.
  • Know your stuff: Try to understand the sport your child plays, and then you can be active in sharing the post-game chatter.
  • Keep the faith: Trust that your child knows what they are doing and let them choose their sporting activity.

Finally sport doesn’t have to be competitive or require expensive equipment for kids to have fun.