Football season is well underway here in the United States of America, with its proud tradition of team-building, competition, glory, and glorious fun. Millions of kids across the nation are taking to the field every week, showing their colors as they kick and run and tackle and catch to the roaring approval of friends, family, and schoolmates. And it’s not just football; there’s baseball to play, track and field, basketball, golf, and a dozen others I’m leaving off for the sake of space. In many places, sports activities dominate our schoolyards, and even where they do not, they often still dominate the minds of the youths participating.
While the benefits of engaging in youth sports are many and varied, these activities do always carry with them the potential risk of injury. Some may be serious (e.g., a broken wrist on the basketball court), some minor (perhaps a slight sprain developed while running), yet all become worse without proper treatment. That classic family stereotype of a parent or grandparent constantly complaining about “that old sports injury” can become a functional reality for kids who do not seek or receive appropriate treatment.
The most common types of sports related injury are often the hardest ones to see. Overuse injuries, which include muscle strains, over extensions, repetitive strain injuries and the like form the majority of sidelining injuries. Acute injuries which happen suddenly and are often traumatic, providing bumps and severe bruises or even something as serious as broken bones or torn ligaments, account for the second highest grouping.
There are some things to watch out for if you are trying to avoid sports injuries in your youth. Improper equipment and ill-kempt playing areas can cause serious issues (consider a football helmet that does not latch or a field full of ruts and divots). Make certain that your kids have the appropriate resources to safely participate in their chosen sports. It’s also valuable to be aware of their coaches training and experience. Improper performance techniques, especially for repetitive motions, can lead to painful, lifelong injuries and complications.
Many physicians also suggest varying your children’s physical activities. One sport played over and over year round is definitely more likely to lead to overuse injury. In addition to the recommended three-month waiting/resting period that is typically suggested, consider enrolling your child in separate types of sports throughout the year. If they play football in the fall, perhaps they can play basketball in the spring, or mix and match with baseball, track and field.
Whichever sport your kids are involved in, make sure that they are getting all of the rest and attention that they need. If your child is injured in play, even if it doesn’t seem serious, take precautions to prevent it from becoming something serious. Particularly if your child seems to be in pain or is having trouble moving a part of their body, speak to a doctor as soon as possible and disallow sporting activities until the situation is resolved.
The Children’s Clinic is a professional association of pediatricians that have been providing the people of Tennessee with quality care for decades. We are happy to provide full sports physicals for all school and community sporting activities. Our highly qualified staff offers compassionate, personalized care from birth through the teenage years. Our office is located at 264 Coatsland Drive in Jackson, TN. You can reach us by calling 731-423-1500 or via our website.