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Children receive so many benefits when they play sports and exercise. They develop their muscles, strengthen their heart and learn valuable social skills. In most sports, running is a large component of the activity. While this is a fantastic physical exercise, it can be dangerous for children if they aren’t trained properly.
Check out the the do’s and don’ts of kids running to make sure your child is off to a successful “running start.”
1. Don’t Over-train Your Kids
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics
, children and teens ages 5 to 14 now account for 40% of all sports-related injuries. Stress fractures in girls are also increasing. Stephen Rice, M.D.,
who is coauthor of one of the largest running studies of high school sports injuries, mentions, “Sports are year-round, and there are a lot of overuse injuries.” So what can you do to make sure your child is safe from injuries? The answer lies in the next point.
2. Do Find a Running Program
There are many running programs out there for children. A good way to find one is to call your local gym or fitness club and ask about local running programs. You can also visit the Road Runner’s Club of America
and find out how to get your own running club started. The Florida Blue kid’s running program in Tampa
is a six-week program that involves 453 elementary and middle school-aged kids. Getting your child involved in a running program will not only help their endurance, but will also be a great opportunity to build friendships with other kids while having fun and getting fit.
3. Don’t Start Too Early
Many doctors and coaches feel that kids should not start training to run before they start kindergarten, because they do not achieve a mature running gait
until they are at least five years old. Brenda Armstrong, M.D
., a Duke University pediatric cardiologist, coaches a running club for young children and says that her biggest concern at such a young age is injuries. "I worry about shin splints in a very young child whose gait is not yet coordinated," says Dr. Armstrong. In addition, children who are five years old or younger don’t have fully matured vision, and lack the attention span needed to be trained properly. This does not mean that a young child should not run, but rather a parent should be more cautious of them running. As long as they can run without falling down, it is safe for them to run in short spurts.
4. Do Find the Right Running Shoes for Your Child
Finding the right type of running shoes for your kids is just as important as finding the right type of running shoes for you. One thing you should be aware of is your child’s arch, which could vary from neutral, low to high. Your child’s arch will determine what type of shoe they need. Here are some other tips to help you out:
- Shop at the end of the day, as that is when the foot is the most swollen. This will prevent you from buying shoes that are too small for your child.
- Most sporting goods stores have experts to help you find the right running shoes, so ask them for help.
- Try on a few pairs of sneakers and have your child walk or jog around the store, so they can find out if they are comfortable or not.
- The shoes should be comfortable from the very beginning and not cause any pain. Don’t buy shoes if you think they will ‘break in’ as that may hurt not only their feet, but cause other injuries.
Having fun is the goal of any sports program, but make sure your child is safe. What are your do’s and don’ts of running? Feel free to share them in the comments below.