Preventing Sports Injuries in your Child
By: Tara Fussell, DPM
It’s that time of year again. School is back in session and fall sports are in full swing. For many parents it means shuffling kids to and from practice and cheering with pride watching their “Home Team” compete.
Unfortunately there is a growing epidemic of sports related injuries in children and teens. According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high school athletes, alone, account for an estimated two million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations every year. The high rate of youth sports injuries is fueled by an increase in overuse and trauma injuries and a lack of attention paid to proper injury prevention. Fortunately more than half of all sports injuries in children are preventable.
Young athletes typically sustain two types of injuries while participating in sports: an acute injury such as a blunt trauma or fall or overuse injury that occurs from small repetitive injuries overtime. Examples of overuse trauma include stress fractures, tendinitis, tennis elbow and swimmer’s shoulder.
Injuries can occur due to improper training, technique, equipment or predisposing medical conditions.
Simple steps can help your child to prevent sports injuries.
Always seek medical advice before your child participates in athletics. Have your child receive a thorough sports physical. Proper screening can identify health conditions that place your child at risk for injury.
Encourage your child to warm up properly before any physical activity, including practice, play and game-time. This involves stretching muscles to release tension and help prevent injury. Many children want to skip this important step. Parents, coaches and team captains should model this behavior and lead a team together in this important step.
Cooling down is just as important as warming up. Cooling down after an activity allows your child’s heart rate to gradually return to it’s resting level. Compliance with cooling down can be increased if it done as a team after each practice and game.
Make sure your child and receiving proper instruction on technique from their coaches and trainers. Most overuse injuries occur because of improper training or technique.
Make sure your child is wear proper fitting equipment, clothing and shoe gear for their activity. Something as simple as ill-fitting equipment and shoes can cause injury. Seek medical and professional advice if you have questions regarding your child’s equipment and shoe gear.
Encourage your child to listen to their bodies and to take a break when needed. A child’s growing body needs time to rest and recover from rigorous physical activity. If your child plays sports year round have them mix up activates and have periods of rest.
If you child is complaining of an injury or pain don’t wait to seek medical advice. “Toughing it out” or playing through pain can not only make an injury worse but mark the end of a sport season. An injury evaluated and treated earlier can prevent serious complications and get your child back to his or her activity sooner.
Here at the Orlando Foot and Ankle Clinic we are using the latest technology to treat sports injuries and enable athletes to return to the sports they love sooner.