Each year more and more young people are enjoying various sports. Taking part in physical activities offers many benefits, like developing confidence and discipline, reducing stress, and reducing the risk of chronic illness and cardiovascular diseases. Unfortunately, sport injuries are part of the territory, too. It is estimated that over five million athletes under the age of 18 will receive medical treatment for injuries related to their sport.
Common Sports Injuries in Young Athletes
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases states that accidents, inadequate gear or equipment, or poor practices are the most common reasons for sport injuries among children. Overuse injuries are also becoming more and more common among the younger crowd. Many injuries are caused because the athlete hasn’t performed proper stretching or warm up, or they aren’t in the proper shape for the sport.
Here are the most common injuries among young athletes:
Ankle sprains are the most common injuries among young athletes. Connecting two or more bones together at the joint, these tough, fibrous bands can only move so far before they become sprained.
Muscles or tendons can get strained for a variety of reasons. A muscle is a tissue that contracts to produce movement. Tendons are tough, fibrous cords of tissue that connect the muscle to the bone.
They are two reasons a bone can break. It can occur from repeated stress to a bone, known as a stress fracture. Or the bone can break due to an accident, being hit, or falling.
The knee is a complex joint that bears a lot of weight. It can become injured due to an improper warm-up, too much running, being hit, twisting too far, or landing wrong.
Repetitive Motion Injuries
When abnormal stress is placed on muscles, bones, and joints, it can cause overuse injuries. One possibility is stress fractures. They happen when a bone has been subjected to stress over and over. Another injury, tendinitis (inflammation of the tendons), occurs when tendons and muscles are overused.
Heat Related Injuries
Children are more likely to suffer from heat-related injuries because they don’t sweat as much as adults. Their body requires a higher core temperature to trigger perspiration. Luckily, heat injuries can be prevented by staying properly hydrated, not spending too much time in the extreme heat, and taking breaks often when the temperatures are high.
Prevention of Sports Injuries in Young Athletes
Any sport has the risk of injury, but some sports injuries can be prevented. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following tips to help with prevention:
- Safety First-Strict safety rules should be set and followed for all sports, but especially those where contact is required.
- Breaks-A short rest period during games and practice can reduce injury risk and help prevent heat-related injuries.
- Recover-One day each week should be devoted to recovery.
- Stay hydrated-The body requires fluids to perform. It is important to drink before, during and after games and practice.
- Gear up-Not only should the correct gear be worn, but it should fit properly.
- Strengthen Muscles-Conditioning helps build strong muscles, which can reduce the risk of injury. This should be an integral part of any sport.
- Increase Flexibility-Stretch before games and practice, and after, too. This lengthens muscles and tendons, making them more flexible and not as tense.
Being a part of a sports team is great for children and teenagers, but it doesn't come without risk. If you or child are going through the recovery process, or you are looking to prevent an injury, contact us and we would be glad to help.