Patients Ask: What You Can Do to Prevent Back-to-School Sports Injuries?
Posted by Jenn F. on Wednesday, September 19th, 2018
It’s that time of year. The leaves are crisping up, the air is chilling out, and kids are back in school, where they’ll pick up football, basketball, field hockey, volleyball, cross-country, dance, and soccer. Sports medicine doctors typically see an influx of back-to-school-related sports injuries in September—everything from lacerations and soft tissue sprains to concussions and heat exhaustion. While every injury, particularly traumatic ones, cannot be prevented, there are ways to make sure your child stays safe.
Muscle Sprains and Strains Are Common Back-to-School Sports Injuries
A good deal of muscle strains and sprains happen in the fall—often due to failing to warm-up before the start of the season. “A good way to prevent injury in fall is to cross-train in the off-season,” explains Dr. Josef J. Geldwert at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in White Plains, New York. “Activities like cycling, swimming, and elliptical training are not very stressful on the body, but keep the muscles conditioned. I would recommend staying active most days of the week throughout the summer. One day of sport-specific drills and training would be good to add as well.”
Get Ankle Sprains Checked Sooner, Rather Than Later
Ankle sprains are all too common at the start of the season, but it tends to be something people just try to “walk off.” Typically, a rolled ankle will swell up and feel sore, but you should be able to walk on it (albeit with some discomfort) within a day or so. If not, you may have broken something in the ankle as well. Initially, following injury, parents and students should follow the “RICE” protocol: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. “Chronic pain and instability occur in roughly 40 percent of people with sprained ankles due to inadequate acute injury care,” Dr. Geldwert explains. “When in doubt, check it out. There’s no harm in that.” To prevent ankle sprains, Dr. Geldwert recommends the simple act of lying on your back, raising one leg, and writing the alphabet with your foot. Moving the ankle in multiple directions activates all the soft tissue in the ankle, so it will be easier to regain lost balance.
Get The Right Shoes
Foot fractures, calluses, blisters, ingrown toenails, aching arches, and pain in the balls of the feet are all common symptoms of wearing the wrong footwear. “There is no one right shoe,” says Dr. Geldwert. “But there are shoes that could be right for you.” A foot specialist will look at the anatomical structure of the foot. “There is no such thing as a ‘perfectly normal’ foot. There are high arches and low arches. There are pronators and supinators. It’s very, very rare to find a completely neutral foot,” according to the White Plains podiatrist. Custom orthotics or padding in the shoe can help a person correct biomechanical issues relatively inexpensively. Shoes should be professionally fitted, and never be worn from season to season. If your child participates in a particular sport more than once or twice a week, a specialized shoe or cleat should be considered.
Check It Out: 6 Tips To Avoid Fall Sports Injuries
Come In for Gait Analysis to Foresee the Future
Gait analysis is particularly important for students who have sustained an injury in the past. After a foot, ankle, leg, or knee injury, young athletes begin to favor one side over the other, which forces another body part to overcompensate. The favored side then wears out quicker, while the less favored side weakens.
Gait analysis is one of the things we do at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. During a typical assessment, we’ll have you stand, walk, and run on a treadmill, which is attached to force plates and sensors. “We can see joint velocity, pressure points, areas of strength and weakness within a joint, and how the kinetic chain is functioning from the hip to the knee to the ankle,” says Dr. Geldwert.
In working with us, we can help you train yourself to move differently. This type of training can be invaluable in sports like swimming, tennis, dance, or running—where there are a lot of repetitive motions involved. Contact us to book an appointment with a sports medicine specialist in White Plains or Manhattan, no referral needed.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.