Children and teens who run have been racing to ask me what they can do to reduce the risk of getting injured while enjoying this sport.

Well, let me jog through some information on this topic.

Injuries in running are quite common. Almost half of all runners are injured every year, especially if that runner is running on asphalt or other hard surfaces that can stress the legs and the back. This can result in everything from blisters to sprained ankles to stress fractures of their bones.

Tips to prevent injuries

If you want to prevent your child or teen from becoming a running injury, I’ve got some suggestions.

— First, make sure your child warms up their leg muscles by stretching before running.

— Gear is equally critical. The wrong shoes and socks can be a disaster. A trained professional at a good running store can help figure out what kind of shoe is best for your child or teen runner.

— Running socks are also important. Socks made from 100% cotton should be avoided. Why? When cotton gets wet, it stays wet and can lead to blisters in the summer and cold feet in the winter. Instead, use wool or synthetics like polyester and acrylic.

— If your child is not running on a track, and chooses the roads around where you live, make sure they choose streets with sidewalks or wide shoulders and run in minimal traffic. Runners should always run single file, but with a partner during daylight hours and face oncoming cars so they can be seen and seen well.

— If on a trail, make sure the trail is well-maintained and not overgrown with fallen or covered branches that can cause your child to trip and fall onto ticks or poison ivy.

— No matter what surface is chosen, the name of the game is to be alert. This means no ear phones or ear buds so they can be aware of their surroundings!

— Your older children and teens should tell others where they plan to go and when they plan to return.

— Weather can also be a factor. If it’s hot, then have them hydrate before the run and bring extra water with them to avoid heat illness. Light clothing and a hat help reflect the sun’s rays.

— As to how far to run, a 10K is usually the upper limit for younger teens and ideally no one under 18 should run a full marathon.

Hopefully, tips like these will run well with you and your child or teen when it comes to making sure they stay safe and enjoy the sport of running.

— — —

Lewis First, MD, is Chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and NBC5.


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