Bows and Arrows as Teaching Tools?

Archery fad prompts health experts to warn kids about possible long term risks with shooting

(RxWiki News) What do Legolas, Robin Hood, and Katniss Everdeen have in common? They all use a bow and arrow. With recent movies, books and the London games focusing on archery, kids are following this fad in record numbers.

Experts from Harris Health System, a fully integrated healthcare system in Harris County, Texas, advises parents of future archers about the possible dangers from long-term injuries on the arms, shoulders, hands and wrists.

“Most would think the obvious injury would be accidentally shooting yourself or others with an arrow, but it’s actually injuries involving shoulders, elbows and wrists that predominate," according to researchers.

"Get cleared by a doctor before shooting."

Children should see a doctor to make sure they're well enough to start shooting. The doctor should look at all joints of the arm since shoulder and arm strength are needed to shoot.

“While archery lessons are a must before children pick up the sport, it’s important that children be strong enough to hold a bow and draw or pull the bow string," said Florence Kay Brown, OTR, a senior occupational therapist at Harris Health Quentin Mease Hospital, in a press release.

"Coordination is important as the arrow must be loaded or notched properly. The child should be able to learn and follow the rules of the sport."

Preparation is important when beginning any sport, experts said, otherwise "the child could experience shoulder strain and possible injury."

“All injuries or strains that last several days should be reported to medical professionals for evaluation and treatment," said Elizabeth Bosquez, MD, medical director at Harris Health Pediatric and Adolescent Health Centers-Bear Creek and Cypress, in a press release.

Experts say exercises that focus on aerobic fitness, strength, and flexibility can help reduce sports-related injuries. And learning how to prevent injuries helps as well.

The experts note that injuries to the rotator cuff in the shoulder as well as to the attaching ligaments and tendons could happen with the repetitive movement in archery.

If elbows become sore from being stressed too much, athletes can rest, place ice on it or take anti-inflammatory medications.

Using the proper equipment and wearing gloves, forearm bands and other protective gear can help prevent other problems in the wrist and hands.

Modifying archers training schedules can also help.

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Review Date: 
November 3, 2012