School is back in session and fall sports have just begun. For many young athletes, this is an exciting time of year. However, for their parents, it can also be a time of worry.
Sports injuries are unfortunately common, especially in young athletes whose bodies are still developing. Luckily, there are steps that parents and coaches can take to help prevent these injuries.
Here are four tips for preventing sports injuries this season:
Prevent Sports Injuries By Coming Prepared
Whether your young athlete is headed to practice or to a big game, it’s important that they come prepared. This means arriving well-fed, hydrated, and with the proper equipment and protective gear.
Getting a good meal and plenty of fluids before exercise is important for all athletes, but it’s especially crucial for young athletes whose bodies are still growing. Before exercise, it's important to eat a balanced meal with complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. It's also important to drink enough water throughout the day, as well as before, during, and after exercise.
In terms of equipment, all athletes should have the proper gear for their sport. In the case of football players, for instance, protective equipment like helmets, pads, face guards, mouth guards, and protective cups are essential. These items also need to be in good condition in order to best prevent injuries and should be replaced as needed.
Avoid Serious Injuries By Warming Up
Perhaps the most well-known way to prevent sports injuries is by warming up. A proper warm-up helps increase blood flow to the muscles, which in turn can help prevent pulled muscles and other sport injuries. By utilizing regular stretching exercises and light aerobic activity (think jumping jacks or jogging), young athletes can help prepare their bodies for the demands of exercise.
A good warm-up should last at least five to ten minutes and should be specific to the athlete’s sport. For example, a soccer player might do some ankle rolls and calf stretches, while a track runner might do some high knees and butt kicks. This can help prevent common injuries like a pulled Achilles tendon or hamstring strain.
Just as it's important to get cold muscles warm before exercise, it's also important to cool warm muscles down afterward. This allows your body to gradually return to its resting state and can help prevent injuries like cramps, strains, and joint pain. A cool-down should last for five to ten minutes and can include things like light jogging, walking, and stretching.
Steer Clear Of Common Sports Injuries By Taking Breaks
During physical activity, it’s important for young athletes to take breaks as needed. This helps prevent overuse injuries, which are common in fall sports like football, soccer, and cross-country.
Overuse injuries are caused by repetitive stress on the muscles, joints, and bones. They often occur when athletes do not take enough time to rest and recover between practices and games. As a result, the tissue becomes inflamed, which can lead to pain and eventually injury.
Breaks can also help prevent issues like heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Though it may be fall, the weather in Pittsburgh can take a while to cool down—last year, On hotter fall days like those, it's extremely important for athletes to take breaks often and to stay hydrated. Wearing light-colored, loose-fitting clothing can also help prevent overheating.
In addition to taking time-outs during physical activity, athletes should also try to mix up their activities, perhaps even by participating in other sports. This can help prevent a sports-related injury by giving the body a chance to recover from the repetitive stress of one particular activity. In other words, if a cross country runner spends a lot of time putting stress on their knees and legs, taking a day to instead focus on upper body strength training can help them avoid knee injuries.
Fight Against Reinjury With Physical Therapy
If you've previously suffered a sports-related injury, you might already know how important physical therapy is to your recovery. However, did you know that physical therapy can help prevent future injuries, as well?
At , our create customized rehabilitation programs that are specifically designed to meet the needs of young athletes. We work with patients of all ages to help them recover from injuries, increase their range of motion, and improve their overall strength and flexibility. Not only can improving their physical capabilities help a young athlete avoid re-injuring a previous injury, but learning the proper technique for their sport can help prevent new injuries, as well.
We understand the importance of staying active and keeping up with your favorite fall sports. However, we also know that it’s essential to do so safely. If you're suffering from any previous injuries or looking for ways to avoid a more serious injury this season, it's time to visit the experts at Performance UNLIMITED.