Youth Sports Injury and Prevention

13/05/14 8:32 AM

Keith Sobkowiak DPT

Keith Sobkowiak DPT

It is that time of year again! It is time for fall sports of all ages. As parents prepare to send their kids off to practices and are running from field to field, we must not forget the most important topic, the children’s health. There are various reasons why an injury might occur, including improper training, improper technique, equipment failure, and/or anatomic or biomechanical issues. Kids sustain two types of injuries in playing sports: acute and overuse. Acute injuries usually result from a single, traumatic event such as fall or hit to the leg or arm. Some common examples of acute injuries are…

fractures, sprains and dislocations. Overuse injuries are more difficult to diagnose and treat because they are usually subtle and occur over time. When repetitive trauma affects the tendons, bones and joints, an overuse injury develops. Common examples include Achilles tendinitis and stress fractures (Shin Splints). So the question is, How do we help prevent injury in children?

8      ways to help prevent injury in children:

1)     Pre-participation physical exams. PPE’s should be performed every year which allows for the screening, prevention, and treatment of any conditions.

2)     Warm-up properly before an activity; with both dynamic and static warm-up/ stretching to gradually elevate the heart rate and increase blood flow to the muscles.

3)     Cool-down properly after an activity; in order to gradually return their heart rate to a resting level.  Stretching will also be helpful to prevent injury.

4)     Use proper training and technique; Coaches are there to help teach proper technique and help avoid injuries. It is very important to have your athletes listen to and adhere to the instructions. Establishing and adhering to rules and procedures can help prevent injury. Most overuse injuries occur because of improper training or technique.

5)     Increase training gradually. When deciding when and how much to push your youth athletes to the next level, remember the 10 percent rule: do not increase training activity, weight, mileage or pace by more than 10 percent per week. This allows the body ample time to recover. Keep your expectations and your athlete’s expectations in check.

6)     Wear proper fitting equipment. Make sure equipment is in good condition and fits properly. Something as simple as weekly equipment checks may help minimize injury potential. This is especially important for football equipment, but also applies to cleats and sneakers.

7)     Drink enough water.  Athletes often forget to hydrate—an essential step for the body to run well. Hydration allows muscles to work properly and avoid cramps and spasms. Be sure that your youth athletes take water breaks every 30 minutes or more often based on the level of activity and temperature.

8)     Rest and take a break.  Kids who play sports year-round are more likely than others to experience overuse injuries because they aren’t giving their bodies a chance to rest and recover. Encourage your athletes to take at least one season off a year. Have them mix it up and play different sports during the year so that the same muscle groups are not being used continuously, leading to overuse injuries.

If your youth athlete experiences pain or other symptoms that might indicate an injury, seek medical attention and tell the athlete’s parents or doctor immediately. The sooner an injury is diagnosed, the more effectively it can be treated and the sooner the athlete can return to playing, with the help of your local physical therapist at the Physical Therapy Center of Bristol or the Physical Therapy Center of Southington/Cheshire.

For more information please contact, Keith Sobkowiak, Physical /Clinical Director at 860-585-5800 or, to help your youth athlete with all their rehabilitation needs.

The Physical Therapy Center of Bristol, LLC has an A+ rating with the BBB with offices in both Bristol and Southingon, 860-585-5800 (Bristol) or 203-272-8490 (Southington) for your convenience. If there are future topics you would like discussed in this column, please feel free to contact via email. 

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