Posted August 22, 2016

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 17, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- School sports play a major role in many lives, and for players and parents alike it's important to know how to reduce the risk of injuries, a sports medicine doctor says.

"Being aware of the injury potential of your sport and proactively seeking ways to prevent such injuries is critical," said Dr. Jennifer Beck. She is a specialist in pediatric sports medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center.

Beck offers the following tips to help keep players safe and at the top of their game:

  • Good nutrition and proper hydration are key.

  • It's important to stretch, warm up and cool down for practices and games or competitions.

  • Practice and use proper techniques for your sport, such as tackling in football; tumbling in gymnastics; and running, jumping and landing in basketball and track events.

  • Always wear all recommended safety equipment, and be sure it fits properly.

  • Cheerleaders and gymnasts should train only in properly equipped facilities with recommended safety equipment, including quality tumbling mats.

  • Basketball players and track-and-field athletes shouldn't push themselves too hard because doing so increases the risk for overuse injuries.

  • Remember that rest is an important part of the training cycle.

Still, injuries can happen, Beck noted in a university news release. If pain or swelling lasts for more than a few days or gets worse, seek medical care.

"And parents, if your athlete suddenly starts taking himself or herself out of the sport, they may have an injury or concern that needs to be checked," Beck advised.

-- Robert Preidt

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