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Sports Injury Prevention

Almost one-third of all injuries incurred in childhood are sports-related. With year-round sports participation and an intense competitive environment, Southern California’s young athletes are at even greater risk.

Most injuries can be prevented by proper training, protective gear and spreading out athletic activities so that parts of the body are not overused. It’s also important that athletes who sustain an injury have adequate rehabilitation and down-time, to minimize further problems.

Preventing Sports Injuries and Overuse Syndrome

To prevent a sports injury, follow these tips:

  • Have a pre-season physical to identify risks for injury.
  • Don’t play one sport year-round.
  • Follow an exercise program to strengthen muscles.
  • Gradually increase your performance level without overdoing it.
  • Wear properly fitted gear such as a helmet, elbow guards, goggles, face mask, mouth guard, pads and appropriate shoes.
  • Warm up and cool down before and after a sports activity.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. Stay hydrated.
  • Take a break if you are injured or tired. Don’t play through pain.

More Tips for Injury Prevention and Recovery


In this CHOC Radio expert interview, orthopaedic surgeon Dr. John Schlechter talks about overuse injuries in children who may be focusing too much on one sport. Listen to this podcast.


Playing sports is a lot of fun. Getting hurt is not. Take these five steps to prevent injuries so you can stay in the game.


Most injuries take 12 to 16 weeks to heal, but most children start feeling better and tend to go back to sports too soon. Learn tips for recovering from common injuries.


Non-surgical treatment for sports injuries, including ultrasound-guided injections, are now available at CHOC. Learn more about our program expansion.


Frequently Asked Questions

Children can prevent an overuse injury by playing different sports throughout the year instead of focusing on one sport year-round. Joints and muscles need rest from the stress of one sport which is why changing sports each season can help minimize the risk of overuse injuries. Young athletes can also reduce injuries with proper warm-ups and training sessions. Most coaches and all physical therapists can teach the athlete and family the proper stretching techniques to help reduce injuries.
The length and amount of therapy a child will need depends on the child’s diagnosis. It is a short-term commitment by the athlete and family to attend physical therapy and perform the prescribed home exercise program. Some will only require a few visits while others may require physical therapy for several months.
Our physical therapists strive to help each child return to their desired sport. If that is not possible, we work with the child and family to determine other sports or activities that may be just as rewarding.

Videos: How to Stretch Properly

Sports Static Stretches

In this video, Mollee Smith, Physical Therapist at CHOC Children's, helps to demonstrate sports static stretches to help prevent sports injuries.

Static Calf Stretch

How to properly perform the static calf stretch is demonstrated by Mollee Smith, Physical Therapist at CHOC Children's.

Sleeper Stretch

How to properly perform the sleeper stretch is demonstrated by Mollee Smith, Physical Therapist at CHOC Children's.

Pectoralis Stretch in the Corner

In this video, Mollee Smith, Physical Therapist at CHOC Children's, helps to demonstrate the pectoralis stretch in the corner.

Doorway Pectoralis Stretch

In this video, Mollee Smith, Physical Therapist at CHOC Children's, helps to demonstrate the doorway pectoralis stretch.

Static Quadradep Stretches

How to properly perform static quadracep stretches is demonstrated by Mollee Smith, Physical Therapist at CHOC Children's.

Long Live Childhood

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