Football, soccer, cheerleading and volleyball are popular fall youth sports activities. As kids settle into the new school year, they’re also excited to hit the field again. To help reduce the risk of common injuries, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) offer safety tips to keep kids in the game and out of the doctor’s office.
“Overuse injuries are the most common types of sports-related injuries,” said AAOS spokesperson Michael S. George, MD. “Often times the initial aches and pains felt during the progression of an injury are overlooked by young athletes. It’s essential to teach them about the importance of informing a coach or parent about pain because an undiagnosed injury can become more severe in the long run.”
Here are 10 ways to avoid injury:
1. Have a pre-season physical examination and follow doctor recommendations.
2. Warm up and cool down properly with low-impact exercises like walking or cycling.
3. Consistently incorporate strength training and stretching. A good stretch involves not going beyond the point of resistance and should be held for 10-12 seconds.
4. Hydrate adequately to maintain health and minimize muscle cramps. Waiting until you are thirsty is often too late to hydrate properly.
5. Keep an eye out for unsafe play surfaces. Playing grounds should be in good condition.
6. Don’t play through the pain. Speak with a sports medicine specialist or athletic trainer if you have any concerns about injuries.
7. When participating, wear protective gear such as properly fitted cleats, pads, helmets, mouth guard or other necessary equipment for the selected sport.
8. Play multiple positions and/or sports during the off-season to minimize overuse injuries.
9. Pay attention to weather conditions such as wet, slippery fields that can lead to injuries.
10. Avoid the pressure to overtrain. Listen to your body and decrease training time and intensity if pain or discomfort develops. This will reduce the risk of injury and help avoid “burn-out.”