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Avoid the ER with safety tips for the family

Avoid the ER With These 6 Safety Tips for Families

check these out before breaking out your old bike

As you spend more time at home due to the COVID-19 restrictions, you and the kids are most likely finding different ways to keep from going stir crazy. For many, that means more play outside or turning your garage into your home gym. It’s almost become a never-ending “recess.”

But before you and the kids start something new (or dad, before you bring out your skateboard from your college years, or mom, before you whip out a bike you haven’t ridden in three-plus years), take a minute to review these safety tips from orthopedic surgeon and Direct Orthopedic Care founder Dr. David Hassinger, so that you don’t suddenly have to make a trip to see him or to the ER.

1.“Wear proper fitting shoes.”

Hassinger wants to remind you that kids grow fast and don’t always want to part with their favorite shoes. So consider doing a routine check of their footwear. “[It] can help avoid sore feet as well as potential missteps,” he says.

And parents, check those laces. “If [your kids] aren’t great about tying their laces, wrecking on a bike as a result of a lace caught in the chain is a painful reminder.”

2. “Wear protective gear, and adjust it as needed to the appropriate fit.”

Hassinger says the importance of a fitted helmet during any sport or activity where the head and/or neck is at risk “cannot be understated.” But most helmets aren’t actually fitted properly. “Once again, kids grow and helmets get smaller as the ‘dome’ gets bigger with growing brains,” Hassinger explains. “This is an area where ‘hand-me-downs’ aren’t practical. Helmets crack, [and] don’t fit like they do on the last kid.”

In other words, get a few different ones and make safety a fashion statement.

3. “Old dogs can create new injuries for kids.” 

If you have a dog, he or she is probably getting more walking time than ever. But Hassinger stresses that untrained dogs can be tough to handle. “For kids and adults, dogs can easily strain and even dislocate joints,” he says. “If your pooch is new to a leash, shorter walks will benefit you both. Also, less leash given to the dog makes it easier to control.”

4. “Follow the 10% rule.”

Hassinger says when adding distance to an activity (such as bike rides) or when starting a new activity, avoid the impulse to “perform like a superstar” right off the bat. Instead, he says to remember the 10% rule:  “Take smaller steps (10% more) in advancing your effort and skill level.”

Everyone wants to be great as soon as they start something new, but a “slow and gradual increase in pursuing ‘stardom’ will increase your skill level and reduce your chance of overuse injuries or worse.”

5. “Go for a ‘test drive.’”

Before you try to show off your skills to your kids, Hassinger recommends that you get a feel for the movement (of a skateboard or bike, for example) on soft ground. “While it may be true that you don’t really forget how to ride a bike, it might take a ride or two for muscle memory to kick in.”

6. “Don’t just rub dirt on it.”

Literally and figuratively—what he means is don’t try to push through pain. Pain is “your body’s natural alert system when something isn’t quite right.” Rest when your body says to do so.

“Peer groups and many team sport cultures can foster a ‘play through the pain’ mentality,” he says. “It’s OK to tell your coach (mom) that you’re having pain. It could be minor, or it could be something more serious. Fostering an awareness of how a child feels when their body is performing normally versus when it doesn’t feel right will pay dividends and help avoid injury.”

Use these tips (and other appropriate guidelines for your choice of activity) to be prepared. Your body will thank you for it.

Of course, should you experience an injury involving muscles, ligaments, joints and/or bones, visit an experienced orthopedic specialist for proper care (or call 911 for emergencies).

Image courtesy of iStock.