how to keep kids feet safe on playgroundsEach year more than 200,000 kids get injured at playgrounds. Recently, a youngster broke his foot while playing on an old fashioned merry-go-round at a playground in England. Although merry-go-rounds have gone out of fashion there are parks that still have them.

While I couldn't find specific statistics on foot injuries at playgrounds, here are some ways to protect your kids from foot and ankle injuries.

Playground Surfaces

No playground surface will stop a foot or ankle injury. However, there are better surfaces that can make fall injuries less likely.

  • Avoid playgrounds that have asphalt, concrete, blacktop, grass or soil. These materials wear out more quickly and are less likely to cushion a kid's fall.
  • Find playgrounds with safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials or loosely packed materials.
  • Make sure the cushioned surface extends at least six feet around the base of the equipment.

Teach Your Kids the Rules Around Playground Equipment

Kids need to learn how to play appropriately with playground equipment and with other kids who are sharing it.

  • Teach kids to land on their feet with their knees slightly bent.
  • Kids should always go down slides feet first.
  • Tell kids to take turns on equipment to avoid collisions.

Avoid Unsafe Playground Equipment

In addition to the merry-go-round here is a list of other unsafe playground equipment.

  • Monkey bars
  • Exercise rings and trapeze bars
  • Swinging ropes that can fray or unravel

Purchase Supportive Footwear

Children should wear supportive footwear to decrease the chance of twisting an ankle or getting a puncture wound.

  • Kids should never wear flip flops or other open shoes at a playground.
  • Purchase shoes that are supportive; cannot easily twist like a rag, fold only at the toes and not at the middle, and have a firm heel counter. View our video "How to Test Any Shoe for Stability".
  • Shoes should be comfortable as soon as your child puts them on. The need to "break them in" often indicates a poor fit.

Source: Adapted from Kids Health

If your child has a foot or ankle injury, call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.

Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.
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