Summer is starting to wind down, and in our house, that means that soccer season is just starting to gear up.  Fall sports like soccer, football, cheerleading, field hockey and volleyball are among the most common activities for kids, but these sports may not always be all fun and games. Incorrect technique, equipment, and/or coaching style can lead to serious injuries such as shoulder tears, herniated disks and even paralysis.

Here's how to make sure your kids steer clear of the doctor’s office this fall.

Check up: Make sure your kids get their yearly before-school exam and talk to your health care provider about any sports your child is interested in pursuing.  The family doctor may be able to detect any possible bone, joint or muscle problems early on to prevent injury later.

Start slow:  If your child is not used to exercise, help them start slowly to build up stamina and endurance.  Dr Eric A. Crone of the Gramercy Surgery Center and NY Ortho, Sports Medicine & Trauma Center recommends that parents talk to their child's coach about pre-season workouts that can help prepare kids for the year ahead.

Gear up:  You don't need to run out and buy your kids a closet full of fancy equipment if your not even sure they will stick with the sport.  But don't send your kids out there unprepared either.  Borrow or rent the equipment he will need until your sure it's worth the investment to purchase.

Stretch out: Un-stretched muscles are far more prone to injury than those that have been stretched.  Dr Crone reccomends that athletes stretch prior to and after every practice, class or game in order to ensure that the correct warm-up and cool-down of the muscles.

Rest up: With the start of school and other activities in the fall, it can be difficult to make sure kids get enough rest.  But if your child is involved in sports, it's important to schedule enough time for rest and recuperation between practices and games to let their developing muscles heal and strengthen.

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