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Keeping Yourself Safe
and Injury-Free

Warming up and cooling down
Before you start exercising, you need to warm up your muscles. It is best to warm up
your muscles before stretching them. You can warm up by walking at an easy pace
before stretching. Then stretch by starting at the top of your body and working your
way down. Slowly stretch your calf, quad, groin, and hamstring muscles.
Warming up can also include jogging slowly, doing knee lifts, and arm circles.

Make sure to cool down and stretch after exercising, too! A cool-down is a gentle
exercise or stretch that helps the body return to its normal state after vigorous
exercise. Cool-downs help your pulse (or heart rate) return to normal and can help
prevent your muscles from feeling stiff after a workout.

Important exercise safety tips
• See your doctor for a sports physical before you start a sport.

• Don’t exercise when it is really hot and humid out. You do not want your body
  to overheat or get dehydrated. If it’s very hot or humid outside, try moving your
  exercise indoors that day. Also, if you live in an area with high air pollution,
  exercise early in the day or at night and avoid congested streets and rush hour

• Drink water before, during, and after exercise or sports competitions.

• Make sure you warm up and stretch your muscles for 5 minutes before and
  after workouts to make your muscles more flexible. It is easer to get hurt if your
  muscles are not stretched. It is also important to increase the intensity of your
  workout gradually. If you exercise intensely right away, you could risk getting hurt.
  Check out tips on how to stretch before exercising.

• See a doctor or let your parents/guardian know if: 1) You are in severe pain, 2)
  you see swelling around where you got hurt, or 3) The pain gets in the way of
  sleep and activities. Don’t jump back to your regular exercise after getting hurt
  because you could get hurt again. Follow your doctor’s orders for how to care for
  your injury and when you can be active again. This includes following instructions
  for use of pain medicine.

• Follow the rules of the game! The rules are there, in part, to keep you safe.

Using the right equipment

When you exercise or play sports, it is important to use the right safety equipment.

Helmets are needed for sports such as baseball, softball, biking, snow skiing, and
rollerblading. Make sure you wear the right helmet for the sport you are playing and
that it fits well. Also make sure that the helmet you wear for biking has a sticker from
the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which means that it is safe for
this activity.

Mouth guards protect your mouth, teeth, and tongue. You should wear a guard if
there’s a chance you could get hit in the head while taking part in activities such as
volleyball, basketball, or martial arts. You can find mouth guards at sport stores or
your dentist. It will also help keep your mouth safe to take out your retainer.

Special eye protection is needed for sports such as ice hockey, soccer, and
basketball. Goggles and face masks should fit snugly and have cushion for a
comfortable fit. If you wear glasses, you need to get fitted for guards that fit over your
glasses. You could also buy special prescription goggles, which cost about $60 or
more. These guards and goggles are made with a special plastic called polycarbonate
(say: pahl-ee-kar-buh-nayt). This special plastic will not hurt your eyes.

It is important to wear the right footwear for your sport. Check with your coach or an
athletic shoe salesperson about what shoes to wear.

Wrist, knee, and elbow pads can help prevent broken bones when you are inline
skating/rollerblading, skate or snow boarding, or playing sports such as hockey.

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