Top Injury Prevention Tips for Fall Sports
Posted by Jenn F. on Monday, September 1st, 2014
The excitement is in the crisp September air. We can feel it here at The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine: fall sports season is nearly upon us! Boys are starting football. Girls are preparing their cheer routines. Cross-country, field hockey, tennis, and volleyball are all revving up at high schools across the country. While kids are eager to jump right into these activities, we unfortunately see more injuries this time of year. New York City sports medicine professional Dr. Ryan Minara explains why — and covers what young athletes can do to protect themselves from injury this season.
Why Do More Sports Injuries Occur in the Fall?
– Sudden increases in activity level. “Winter and spring sports have one obvious advantage: most kids have been involved in other sports during the preceding months, so they’ve been active for a season already. They are all warmed up and ready to play,” explains Dr. Ryan Minara, DPM. “So we always tell parents and high school students that it is very important to use summertime to TRAIN for preseason sports. Don’t use preseason to get in shape!”
– Unpredictable weather and changes in playing surface. Shifting weather patterns are another factor that contributes to sports injuries in the fall or the spring months. “Especially in New York City, there is no telling what football players, runners, and other outdoor athletes are going to face,” explains Dr. Minara. Turf surfaces change from slippery and wet to cold and crunchy, and back to warm and dry — sometimes all in one week. When the weather is particularly inclement, athletes may be moved indoors onto wood, tile, or even cement. This frequent changing of surface increases stress on the ankles, knees and hips.
– Muscle fatigue. All summer, kids move freely and enjoy more leisure time. Suddenly, when school starts, students are cramped into an uncomfortable school desk for eight hours a day. The hips remain flexed at 90-degrees, and the brain focuses on keeping the hip flexors, hamstrings, and spinal erectors engaged to maintain a sitting position. Unfortunately, these are the opposite muscles the body needs to prevent common sports injuries. Instead, hip extension is required to take pressure off the back, shoulders, knees, and other joints.
What Are the Most Common Fall Sports Injuries & How Are They Prevented?
“We see a lot of tendon injuries, muscle pulls, and stress fractures,” says Dr. Minara. Slowly ramping up activity levels over the course of a few months leading into preseason can minimize the risk significantly. Students should spend at least 10 minutes warming up every practice and devote twice as long to end-of-practice stretches. Parents should be sure their children have all the necessary equipment needed to excel in fall sports — be it soccer cleats or a mouth guard for football. Shoes should be replaced every season. Parents are also responsible for seeing that their children take a few days off activity per week and not over-do it. “Nowadays, we see kids doing the same sport six days a week, all year round. That is a recipe for overuse injury,” Dr. Minara adds.
“Middle-school-age children come in with growth plate injuries,” says Dr. Minara. A growth plate injury occurs at either end of the leg bone. A damaged growth plate may lead to arthritis, crooked bones, or limbs that do not grow long enough — although these circumstances are rare. More often than not, kids rebound from a growth plate injury without any further consequences. To prevent these injuries, be sure you oversee your child’s strength training to ensure he or she is not lifting too much weight too fast. You also want to see that your child is using the proper form. Playing in extreme cold, certain medications, neurological disorders, metabolic diseases, and genetic factors are believed to all play a role in the development of growth plate injuries as well. It is important to speak with a sports medicine professional to determine whether your child may be at risk for a growth plate injury.
When high school athletes begin to get tired, they get sloppy. “Fatigue is the number one factor in ankle sprains,” says Dr. Minara. Teach your child to recognize signs of fatigue so he or she can request a break if the coach doesn’t see it. Some of these early signals may include some or all of the following symptoms:
– Inconsistent performance
– Decreased focus
– Shortness of breath
– Muscle twitches
– Depression or irritability
– Severe thirst
– Generalized weakness
– Muscle cramps
– Dizziness, and
NYC Sports Medicine Doctors Help High School Athletes Stay Healthy
Most schools can only afford to have a volunteer coach on the roster, whereas professional teams typically have their own personal trainers committed to the ongoing health of the team. As a parent, it is up to you to ensure your child’s safety and health during the fall sports season. That’s why we recommend contacting The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine in NYC. Our team includes experienced, board-certified podiatrists, surgeons, physical therapists, and sports medicine specialists who will oversee your child’s training program and ensure a safe, happy, and efficient sports season. Book your child’s session today.
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.