Fall Sports: Injuries and Prevention

As summer comes to an end it means back to school and back to fall sports. Unfortunately, with the beginning of a new sports season comes an increased risk for sports related injuries. According to a survey performed by SafeKids.org, every year approximately 1.35 million kids are seen in the emergency room to receive treatment for a sports related injury. Of these injuries 15% can be attributed to the ankle. This makes ankle injuries the most common reason children go to the emergency room when injuring themselves during sports. It’s important that parents and athletes are aware of the types of injuries that may occur and what to do to prevent them from happening.

The most common diagnoses related to sports injuries are sprains, strains, and fractures. The terms sprain and strain are often confused. A sprain is an injury that occurs after stretching or tearing a ligament, or the soft tissue that connects a bone to another bone. A strain occurs when stretching or tearing a muscle or tendon, the tissue that connects muscle to bone. Fractures, or broken bones, can range from being minor injuries that heal with minimal treatment to very severe injuries that may require surgery. When it comes to the foot and ankle these types of injuries may occur because of unexpected twisting, direct impact, or even from overuse. This commonly occurs in sports that require high impact jumping or running as well sports that require quick cutting actions. Athletes involved in sports such as football, soccer, and cheerleading must be particularly careful. It’s important that if an injury does occur that you or your child is seen by the appropriate physician in order to be sure they are given a proper diagnosis and receive appropriate treatment.

There are various steps that can be taken in order to prevent such injuries from occurring. First make sure proper equipment and protective gear is being used. It is also important that the equipment is in good condition, fits appropriately, and is worn properly. Avoid using gear that is worn out, poorly fitting, or broken. Another step is making sure athletes practice the skills they need in order to perform their activity safely. Knowing proper form can minimize risk of injury. For example, knowing safe tackling techniques will decrease chance of injuring multiple players involved in the game. Being in good physically fit condition will also decrease risk of injury. Before engaging in a sport be sure to complete adequate training and conditioning. “Warming up” prior to activity, as well as “cooling down” after activity are also widely accepted ways to reduce risk of injury. Lastly keep in mind that the rules of sports are often created in order to keep athletes safe during performance. Following the rules of the game may also help reduce injury risk.

When it comes to sports injuries are very common and to some extent inevitable. Whether it may be something as severe as a fracture or a simple as a bruise, having the ability to recognize and prevent injuries offers protection in itself. It’s important to protect athletes and having this type of knowledge allows for a safe start to the fall sports season.