Preventing Winter Youth Sports Injuries

Traumatic and overuse injuries are on the rise among young athletes. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, 1.24 million kids were seen in emergency rooms for sports injuries in 2013. These injuries can be attributed to a number of reasons: students competing for a top spot on the roster, pushing to get college scholarships, not knowing their physical limits or challenging themselves for a chance to go pro. Every young athlete has a different reason for why they push themselves and, consequently, why they get injured. However, there’s also an underlying similarity: many of these injuries can be prevented. As we get deeper into the winter sports season, it is important for student athletes, parents and coaches to be proactive about learning the common injuries caused by winter sports, and the key steps to preventing those injuries. First, let’s take a look at the common injuries. There are two types of injuries that typically occur: traumatic injuries are the result of a single, traumatic event, and overuse injuries are more subtle and occur over time. Both types can have short and long-term effects on an athlete, and on their ability to perform. The most common injuries among young athletes involve sprains, strains, dislocations and fractures. Winter sports in particular, such as basketball, hockey and skiing, put a lot of stress on the body, which can lead to additional injuries. Basketball is a fast-paced, aggressive sport that can cause a wide range of injuries, most often to the foot, ankle, and knee. Sprained ankles and knee ligament tears such as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are most common. Basketball players are also at risk for jammed fingers and stress fractures in the foot and lower leg. Hockey is a collision sport, so many injuries occur from contact with other players, the stick, the puck, and the boards. Non-contact injuries can occur from overuse or acute trauma; they include bruises, muscle pulls and ligament tears and cuts. Serious injuries include broken teeth, concussions, broken bones, dislocations, and spine and spinal cord injuries.For schools that offer skiing and snowboarding, there are also a wide range of injuries that can occur, such as knee injuries, particularly to the ACL, shoulder injuries including fractures, dislocations and sprains, and head injuries. To help prevent traumatic injury, there are several steps that athletes, parents and coaches can take: 1. Make sure the athlete has proper, well-fitted equipment; otherwise it will not provide protection. Poorly-fitted equipment can cause injury from tripping or blocked vision, and can distract the athlete from the game. 2. The athlete should be well-rested, hydrated and alert every time they participate in their sports. Being tired or famished can limit an athlete’s attentiveness and flexibility. 3. Stretching, to make sure the muscles are flexible, should become part of an athlete’s daily routine, including before and after a game. The tendency is to stretch quickly and not all of the muscle groups, so it’s important to stretch all of the muscles used in the sport in order to prevent injury. Basketball players, for example, should not only stretch their lower extremities (hamstrings, Achilles and quadriceps), but also their back and upper extremities since all of these body parts are used during competition. 4. Athletes should pay attention to their body and what their body is telling them. The feeling of pain is an indication that something is wrong. Continuing to participate in athletics with an injury, pain and/or swelling can make the injury worse and potentially cause long-term problems. This can also make treatment and recovery more intense. 5. Anytime something doesn’t feel right or a trauma has occurred, it is important to see a medical professional right away. Waiting to get treated can worsen the injury and impact the athlete long-term. 6. It is also recommended that young athletes play a couple of different sports rather than focusing on just one. Each sport uses a different set of muscles and puts stress on different parts of the body. By rotating the muscles being used, you condition the entire body and help prevent overuse. Participating in sports is a highlight of young athletes’ lives. However, injury can quickly turn a fun game into a painful event that could take weeks, months or even years to overcome. By educating themselves about common injuries caused by winter sports, and the best ways to prevent them, athletes, coaches and parents can experience the best winter sports season yet. To read the original article, please click the following link: