Students are all heading back to school, and for many young people, this time of year also marks the beginning of the fall sports season. As exciting as it is to watch your child take to the field with their football or soccer team, it’s also important to remember that participation in many fall sports can also put them at risk for sustaining a variety of orthopedic injuries.
wants both parents and children to be knowledgeable about how best to prevent sports injuries, allowing all parties to enjoy the fall sports season without worry. Here are four tips for preventing common fall sports injuries this year:
1. Warm Up Before You Play
It can be difficult to remember to warm up, especially for younger kids who just want to get out and play. But the importance of giving your body an appropriate warm up before any physical activity -- especially sport -- cannot be stressed enough. When the muscles aren’t stretched, they become tighter, and the distance they’re capable of spanning before injury becomes shorter. If this stiffness isn’t addressed through proper warm ups designed to take the muscles to their full range of motion, your child’s tendons and ligaments are significantly more prone to injury on the field. Elements of a proper warm up include:
- Jogging to get the heart going and the muscles warm.
- Dynamic stretching, as opposed to static stretching, whereby the muscles are stretched through movements such as “high knee” jogging, and “butt kicks”.
- Agility exercises such as side shuffle, or karaoke running.
- Several 80-90% sprints.
2. Keep Your Body Hydrated
Drinking plenty of water isn’t just important for keeping up stamina and preventing dehydration. Without an appropriate amount of hydration, your child’s body is actually more prone to injuries. As we use our muscles, especially during intense athletic activity, they gradually lose water. After losing a certain amount of water, these muscles become tense, reducing athletic performance and making injuries more likely. Likewise, as your child sweats while playing sports, they’re losing essential water, salt, and (opens in a new tab), making them vulnerable to muscle cramps and even heat stroke.
3. Know the Common Causes of Sports Injuries
Awareness of what can potentially cause an injury in your child is the first step to understanding how to prevent it. For example, certain fall sports carry a higher risk of injury than others. Some of the most high-risk fall sports include:
- Field hockey
It’s also important to be aware of which injuries are most prevalent in kids who play sports, and why they happen. Some of the most common fall sports injuries include:
- Knee injuries, including ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears, which can happen as a result of landing in an extended knee position, stopping or pivoting suddenly, or otherwise putting excessive amounts of force on the ligament. MCL (medial collateral ligament) injuries are also common.
- Sprains and strains, which can happen when a muscle (strain), or ligament (sprain) is overextended resulting in damage to the muscle or ligament. These injuries are thought of in terms of degree of severity ranging from mild (Grade1), moderate (Grade 2), or severe (Grade 3, or completely torn).
- Shoulder Dislocations and Concussions, which are brain injuries resulting from blows to the head, either from another person’s limb, a ball, a stick, or a fall to the ground.
4. Have a Preseason Exam
For some student athletes, previous underlying conditions can pose unexpected risks of injury during the fall sports season, taking parents, teams, and children by surprise. Scheduling a preseason exam is typically required for most students. These exams can help uncover potential issues early, before they become a major problem.
When your student athlete takes the appropriate measures, many fall sports injuries can be preventable. If you do find yourself or your athlete in need of sport injuries treatment, will be here to help. Dr. Rytel specializes in sports medicine and routinely treats a wide variety of sports-related injuries, giving him the expertise to offer an accurate diagnosis and an individualized treatment plan. If you’re looking for an experienced sports doctor near you, an appointment with Dr. Rytel today!