In the United States alone, over 45 million children and young adults are participating in sport related activities this year. This number is significantly higher than ever before and along with this has come a significant increase in the number of sports related injuries. Sports provide the opportunity to make new friends, have fun and stay fit. However, it is extremely important to keep our athletes healthy and do our best to prevent any injuries that could leave them sidelined. Below are some of the most common sports related injuries in children and young adults along with a few tips on how to prevent them!
1. Ankle Sprain
If an athlete has weakness or instability in his or her ankle(s) during their sporting season, it will put them at a significantly higher risk for this type of injury. It is important to work on a combination of strengthening, balance, and stretching. You can strengthen the muscles surrounding the ankle by wrapping a band or towel around the foot and resisting turning the foot in and out, and moving the foot up and down. Additionally, making sure your child stretches prior to and after games to maintain appropriate muscle length and function can help prevent this type of injury. Finally, working on improving balance can help stabilize the ankle joint when it is stressed in multiple positions throughout a game.
2. Overuse Injuries
Overuse injuries are seen more and more in children and young adults in recent years. These injuries occur when the athlete does not rest appropriately following an activity or sporting event, and consequently the body is not able to heal itself. Additionally, since children are still growing these types of injuries if not treated appropriately or prevented, can lead to longer and more severe issues in the future. One way these injuries can be prevented with adequate rest following practices, games or tournaments.
3. Muscle Strains
As young athletes continue to grow and their bodies continue to mature, they are put at a much higher risk of muscle injury due to imbalances and instability. As with overuse injuries, it is important to give our athletes appropriate rest time throughout their sports season. Additionally, children and young adults should work on some continued conditioning/exercise throughout their off season to maintain the level of strength and flexibility required for their particular sport.
Other tips for keeping young athletes healthy and injury free:
- Stay hydrated throughout the day
- Take time off both within season and between sport seasons (at least 1 day per week in
season should be a “rest day” for a child to relax and recover).
- Do not let a child play through discomfort or pain
Ensure your child is using proper form/technique during his or her season. This should
be enforced throughout the season by the coaching staff.
- Do not have your child perform a particular sport year round. During their “off season”,
athletes should give their muscles and joints a rest from the repetitive motions of their
sport by trying other activities or exercises that are unrelated.