Judo is a contact sport, we pick people up and throw them down on the ground. Although we teach people how to fall, we can not remove all the risks. Injuries happen and as a parent you need to know how to react, what to do to prevent injuries and what to do if your child gets hurt.
What Causes Injuries?
There are two main types of injuries; “collision” and “overuse” injuries.
Collision injuries are simply injuries that occur when an athlete has a collision with another person or something else… like the floor. This typically happens when a mat is crowded and someone is thrown onto someone else who has just been thrown. Or trips over someone else. Or when a throw is not well controlled and your child gets thrown overly hard or awkwardly and gets hurt.
Overuse injuries are when muscles or joints are damaged by being over used. This is the sort of injury that is typical known as a bad knee, sore shoulder, wobbly ankles, dodgy fingers etc. We see this sort of injury in adults more than children. In fact we should NEVER see this sort of injury in a healthy child in sensible training.
Elite level athletes train at such a level that they run very close to the thresholds where overuse injuries happen. Children on the other hand should never be training so often/hard that they pick up over use injuries. So if your child has picked up a overuse injury; you need to consider very seriously about the levels and quality of training they are receiving.
What to do if your child in injured?
Firstly, follow the normal first aid procedures. R.I.C.E is a good starting point. That is REST, ICE, COMPRESSION and ELEVATION. Specifically, if your child gets hurt, they should stop doing Judo immediately (rest), they should put something cold on the area injured (ice). Next they should have some sort of bandaging (compression) and put the injured part up (elevate). This will stop continued injury and control the swelling/bruising. Depending on the injury a trip to your doctor or emergency care would be sensible.
Your child should then be allowed the time to heal. They should not go back to Judo until the injury is healed properly. Returning too soon to training is a really common factor in repeat injury. A twisted ankle if not fully healed may cause your child to fall awkwardly and either hurt the ankle again and/or cause another injury.
Injuries are uncommon in Judo. Bumps and bruises do happen. Falling can causes some immediate pain and tears (especially in younger children) and it is a delicate balance sometimes between the “get back on the horse” idea where we don’t want a small bump being over-reacted to and your child falling our of love with Judo and not treating injuries seriously enough.
Children are fragile; their bones are not the same as adult bones. Their bodies are growing and can break in ways that for non medical people can be hard to appreciate. Children have also be known to get quite serious injuries and not report them as being serious as they do not have the life experiences to know an injury is actually serious. Many parents tell anecdotes of how a seemingly small fall causes a bone fracture in a child. And vice versa, sometimes the pliability of a child’s body protects them from what would be a definite injury in an adult.
If in doubt… seek medical advice.
A final point on armlocks and strangles.
Recently, with the popularity in adults of the UFC and MMA there has been an increase in the participation in armlocks and strangles by children. This is often done safely and many coaches will assure parents that it is safe.
It is not, in my opinion, safe. A better statement might be that it is an un-required increasing of the risk of injury in children for little if any benefit. It is important to appreciate that damage to joints is very serious… they do not heal as easily as a simple bone fracture or twisted ankle. Especially in a young body that is growing it is not a good injury to have. Equally, a child’s neck and throat are not as developed or robust as an adults. So the risk of injury is increased and the types of injury associated with the neck are very serious.
So please think long and hard before allowing your child to participate in any armlocks or strangles.