Preventing Sports Injuries
With so many of our patients in the midst of spring sports seasons, it’s important to keep safety in mind. Most injuries occur to ligaments (connect bones together), tendons (connect muscles to bones) and muscles. Only about five percent of sports injuries involve broken bones. However, the areas where bones grow in children are at more risk of injury during the rapid phases of growth. In a growing child, point tenderness over a bone should be evaluated further by a medical provider even if there is minimal swelling or limitation in motion. Of course, please call us if you have any questions.
To reduce the risk of injury:
- Time off. Plan to have at least one day off per week from a particular sport to allow the body to recover.
- Wear the right gear. Players should wear appropriate and properly fit protective equipment such as pads (neck, shoulder, elbow, chest, knee, shin), helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups, and/or eyewear. Young athletes should not assume that protective gear will protect them from performing more dangerous or risky activities.
- Strengthen muscles. Conditioning exercises before games and during practice strengthens muscles used in play.
- Increase flexibility. Stretching exercises before and after games or practice can increase flexibility.
- Use the proper technique. This should be reinforced during the playing season.
- Take breaks. Rest periods during practice and games can reduce injuries and prevent heat illness.
- Play safe. Strict rules against headfirst sliding (baseball and softball), spearing (football), and body checking (ice hockey) should be enforced.
- Stop the activity if there is pain.
- Avoid heat injury by drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise or play; decrease or stop practices or competitions during high heat/humidity periods; wear light clothing.