Back to school means kids are diving into more than just new classes and textbooks. Many children participate in school sports (which is fantastic!).
Between often surprisingly intense practices and games, and the over-stuffed backpacks every student seems to tote around, it’s no wonder we see an uptick in injuries and sore muscles.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, sprains (ligaments), strains (muscles), and stress fractures (bones) are the most common types of sports injuries, caused by excessive stress on tendons, joints, bones, and muscles. The stress can be cumulative, due to overuse, or the result of a sudden, traumatic event. Whatever the cause, any injury – even if it appears to be minor, should be checked out by a child’s physician.
A major issue for children and teens is growth plates, which are specific points on long bones where growth occurs (often near the ends of the bone). If a growth plate is damaged by an injury – usually a fracture, although other injury types can also damage growth plates – the bone itself may stop growing. This is a serious complication which can permanently impair the bone’s growth and function, leading to crooked bones or short limbs. Fortunately, this is rare. With an accurate diagnosis and the right treatment, including physical therapy, most growth plate injuries are successfully treated without long-term problems.
There are some simple ways to reduce the risk of injury for a child participating in school sports:
• Take it easy – student athletes should have at least one or two sports-free days per week.
• Ensure your child is wearing appropriate, well-fitting gear. Sports are expensive, and a large part of that expense is often the gear. It may be tempting to allow your child to use the same equipment from season to season, but if it’s worn out, damaged, or no longer fits correctly, it’s time to replace it.
• Strengthen muscles with a conditioning routine.
• Increase flexibility with stretching exercises.
• Make sure your child knows the proper technique and form for their sports activities.
• Confirm your child’s coach emphasizes playing safe. Rules prohibiting sliding head first, spearing, or checking, are there for a reason and should be enforced.
• Teach your child not to “play through” pain and to speak up to the coach and you if they experience pain or discomfort.
Additionally, cross-training is a great way for a young athlete to stay in shape without continuously stressing the same joints and muscles. Warming up and stretching before exercise, training or games is also an important and effective way to prevent injury – and should be emphasized as a life-long habit for optimal health.
Now, about those backpacks…There’s just no getting around the need for them. And, unfortunately, it seems that between books, binders, lunches, and school supplies, kids are destined to haul around what seems to be the equivalent of what a well-provisioned Sherpa might need to conquer Everest. The good news is, there are a few things you can do to minimize stress and discomfort. Click here to learn more about how to avoid or minimize backpack pain.
The start of a new school year is always busy and exciting. We wish you and your family a happy, healthy academic year! Should your child need a strengthening and conditioning routine to prep for a school sport, or physical therapy in the event of an injury, please give us a call. We offer complimentary consultations! 561-278-6055
Click here for the full American Academy of Pediatrics article on sports injuries.
We have an outstanding team of licensed physical therapists.
If you are considering physical therapy, for you or your child, please call us for your complimentary consultation. 561-278-6055
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