Sports injuries and prevention
Sports injuries are common in tweens and teens. Whether it’s club Frisbee or tackle football, every sport comes with potential injury. Knowledge of common sports injuries and prevention can help your son stay healthy and safe.
Simple tips to avoiding injury during play include:
- Proper equipment. Young athletes should wear helmets for baseball, softball, hockey, football, wheeled sports (skateboarding, inline skating, bicycling), and skiing. Mouthpieces, athletic cups for boys, pads, and other safety gear should be discussed with your child’s coach. All safety equipment must be properly maintained and used consistently. Teens who refuse to wear the correct protective gear should be pulled out of play until they decide to comply to avoid injury.
- Listening to pain. Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something is wrong, and should be a signal for a young athlete to stop playing. Your son, however, may want to push through pain, which is always a mistake. Playing with pain dramatically increases the chance of an acute injury or overuse injury. In some cases, we have seen young athletes permanently ruin their joints by ignoring pain.
- Maintaining playing surfaces. An adult should check the playing field for holes and ruts. Courts are more forgiving than concrete surfaces for playing sports like basketball. Running tracks are far more preferable than sidewalks for young runners.
- Providing adequate, qualified adult supervision. Coaches should be trained in first aid and CPR. Consider having a portable defibrillator at the sidelines during contact sports. It is also important that players commit to playing safe. Teens should be asked to take a pledge to play safe and fair, and adopt a culture that doesn’t tolerate dirty or brutal play.
- Warming up and cooling down. Young bodies need to stretch out their muscles and tendons before jumping into full play. After a game or practice, athletes should cool down by walking or stretching to help their bodies adjust from strenuous activity.
- Hydrating. Parents and coaches should encourage teens to drink plenty of water before, during and after heavy exercise to avoid dehydration and decrease their risk of injury.
Common types of sports injuries include:
- Acute. This type of accident occurs suddenly, often in a setting of improper equipment or technique. Examples include concussions, sprains, strains, and more serious injuries to the head, eyes, bones, or spinal cord.
- Overuse. This type of injury happens when young bodies repeatedly put stress on their muscles, bones and tendons. All who play sports can develop an overuse injury. But the risk of such a problem increases when teens play the same sport with excessive intensity or for many hours. Overuse injuries can also be caused by improper techniques, inadequate equipment, playing the same sport year-around, playing multiple high-level sports simultaneously, or go through a rapid growth spurt while playing sports intensely. Common overuse injuries include Little League elbow, shin splints and swimmer’s shoulder.
- Re-injuries. Re-injuries occur when an athlete returns to play before their previous injury has healed. Avoid re-injury by following your coach and doctor recommendations for return to play after injury. Sudden re-entry to full play can also cause re-injury, as can failure to adequately warm up and cool down after sports.
To be sure your child is in good health and can safely play organized sports, schedule an appointment with us for your child to receive a complete physical.