September isn’t just when classes are in full swing. Sports ramp up, too, and with that comes the potential of injuries. Nationwide, 3.5 million youth under the age of 14 are hurt playing sports each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. A large percentage of these injuries are due to overused muscles in young athletes playing soccer, basketball and football. Dr. Matt Fishman of Abrazo Scottsdale Campus takes a closer look at youth sports injuries, including how to recognize and prevent them.
Youth sports injuries can be categorized into acute and overuse injuries. Acute injuries happen after sudden trauma such as a collision which may result in broken bones, ligament tears, dislocations, etc.
Overuse injuries occur after prolonged, repetitive activity and include tendonitis, stress fractures, little league elbow, swimmer’s shoulder, etc. Overuse injuries may then also further predispose your child to an acute injury.
Causes of sports injuries include improper equipment, technique, preparation, diet and hydration as well as excessive specialization in a single sport without adequate rest. Here are ways to help your child remain a healthy athlete:
GET A YEARLY PRE-PARTICIPATION PHYSICAL EXAM:
An annual pre-season physical exam by a sports medicine physician or pediatrician can help detect pre-existing conditions that may predispose your child to an injury during the season.
USE PROPER EQUIPMENT AND TECHNIQUE:
Your child should wear appropriate protective equipment (shoes, shin guards, pads, helmet, mouth guard, etc.). Coaches and trainers should ensure equipment fits properly and is in good working condition. Learning proper technique, such as tackling in football, is also important for injury prevention.
STRETCH, WARM UP AND COOL DOWN:
Proper warm-up includes stretching and a gradual increase in heart rate before game time. After each game, cool down and stretch again to promote healthy recovery.
GRADUALLY RAMP UP:
In general, the frequency and intensity of your child’s activity should not increase by more than 10% each week. Abrupt increases faster than this may cause undue stress to the body and lead to injury.
Encourage your child to play in a variety of different sports. Allow for an off-season from each sport to prevent the constant, repetitive use of the same muscles groups which is a significant cause of overuse injuries.
ALLOW FOR REST:
Allow for at least one day of rest between practices or games for recuperation. Tired joints and muscles predispose your child to both acute and overuse injuries.
GET SLEEP, EAT HEALTHY, AND HYDRATE:
Encourage a good night’s sleep and a healthy, well-balanced diet to supply the body with the nutrients it needs. Be sure to hydrate to prevent muscle cramps and spasms. Also, protect your child from the sun and excessive heat to avoid overheating.
SIGNS YOUR CHILD MAY BE HURT:
Your child may not always complain of pain. Signs of injury include swelling, stiffness, limping, fatigue, lack of interest in playing, headache, skin blisters, etc.
A healthy athlete is a better athlete! Do not hesitate to reach out to a sports medicine physician if you have concerns about your child’s health.
Written by: Matt Fishman, MD, Abrazo Scottsdale Campus
Matt Fishman, MD is an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery at Abrazo Scottsdale Campus. He completed his orthopaedic residency at one of the nation’s busiest and top-ranked orthopaedic hospitals, and completed his fellowship training from world leaders in advanced sports medicine surgical techniques at the renowned Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, where he cared for professional and collegiate athletes. He has presented research throughout the country and authored scientific, peer-reviewed articles on a variety of orthopaedic toipcs. Dr. Fishman is a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and the Arthroscopy Association of North America.