Common Summer Sports Injuries and Prevention Tips
By: Kelsie McGladrey, PT, DPT
With the sunny weather comes sports! We have had a beautiful spring and summer is in full swing! As your kids are out playing both organized and recreational sports they are getting great physical and social benefits. But with the increase in play comes an inherited risk of injury.
It is common for kids to gets scrapes and bruises while playing but they can also experience a more severe injury. Most commonly children involved in sports experience strains, sprains, repetitive stress injuries, concussions, and heat-related injuries.
- Strains and Sprains are injuries to muscles, tendons, and ligaments. An ankle sprain (ligament injury) is the most common athletic injury.
- Repetitive Stress injuries are injuries such as stress fractures or tendinitis. These occur when the muscles and tendons are overuses.
- Heat-related injuries can evolve from improperly hydrating. This often starts out as dehydration but can progress to more severe cases of heat exhaustion or stroke. These injuries can become severe but luckily can be prevented with proper hydration.
- Concussions can occur from being hit by a ball, falling during activity, or a crash between two children. Concussions are a serious injury that should be evaluated by a physician.
So what can you do to avoid these injuries? It always starts with preventative measures!
- Your child should always warm-up and cool down. Warm-ups are a great routine to get your child’s muscles and tissues ready for activity. It allows them to be warm and more flexible for the activity. Cool downs are often left out of the routine. As your children participate in sports activities their muscles can tightened from the increased stress and work-out. A cool-down routine will allow these muscles to loosen back to their normal state.
- Wearing proper protective wear is very important. It is important that the gear fits correctly to best prevent an injury. Helmets are a big step towards preventing concussions.
- Hydration and proper nutrition will help your child be ready for their sport and prevent them from experiencing heat related injuries.
- Encouraged your child to be active and build their strength and endurance for each activity. It is important to be in proper condition for each sport. Physical therapy can help with this!
Despite our attempt to prevent injuries, occasionally they still happen. If your child sustains a significant injury it’s best to see a physician to check the severity of the injury. Once cleared by your physician, you can use “RICE” as an at home treatment option to help your child recover.
R – Rest Rest the injured area as directed by your physician.
I – Ice the injured area for 15-20 minutes at a time. Wrap the ice in a towel to prevent freeze burn.
C – Compression: Discuss with your physician whether compression is appropriate and what type of wrap with best fit your child’s needs.
E – Elevation: Elevate the injured area above your heart. Elevation can help with swelling.
Physical therapy services may be warranted to help your child prepare for sports activities or recover following an injury. Contact your local physical therapist for more information, tools, and resources to prevent injuries or recover quickly from sustained injuries.
Enjoy the sun and the start of sport seasons!