As a parent, you want to do everything in your power to keep your children safe. This includes ensuring that they stay injury-free when playing sports. Unfortunately, many kids end up sidelined due to sports injuries each year. Whether they are enjoying sports this summer or preparing for school-related sports, it is important that participation and activity are a gradual process. Being thrown into practices and games at full force can take a hit on their little bodies. If they do experience an injury, here is what you need to know.
Little Leaguer’s Elbow
Despite being named after a youth baseball program, this overuse injury affects throwing athletes of all ages participating in baseball and softball. It is caused by repetitive throwing motions and results in tenderness or pain on the inside of the elbow. If your child experiences this, have them rest their arm for at least two weeks and avoid any activity that causes pain. Once the pain subsides, they can begin participating in light activities such as range-of-motion exercises. If the pain persists, however, consult a doctor.
To prevent this elbow injury, try limiting their time pitching and encourage them to practice other movements related to other positions.
This injury is common in young athletes participating in running sports such as track or soccer. Shin splints refer to pain along the inner part of the shinbone and can be caused by overpronation (flat feet), improper shoes, or overtraining. Treatment includes rest, ice, and pain relievers. If the pain persists, consult a doctor.
To prevent shin splints from developing, start with short distances and gradually increase mileage as your child’s endurance improves. They should also cross-train with other activities such as swimming or biking to reduce the risk of injury. Wearing the proper shoes is also key in preventing shin splints.
Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries, especially in young athletes. They occur when the ligaments that support the ankle stretch beyond their limits or tear. This can happen when landing awkwardly from a jump, suddenly changing directions, or stepping on an uneven surface. Treatment typically includes RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and pain relievers. In some cases, a doctor may also recommend physical therapy.
To prevent ankle sprains, have your child wear shoes that provide support and avoid playing on uneven surfaces. Strengthening the muscles around the ankle can also help to prevent injury.
Sports that involve running and jumping can stress your child’s developing knees. Osgood-Schlatter disease is a common injury that affects the knee joint and usually occurs in young athletes during a growth spurt. It is characterized by pain and swelling around the kneecap and can make it difficult to fully extend the leg. Treatment includes RICE, pain relievers, and avoiding activities that aggravate the condition. In some cases, a doctor may also recommend physical therapy.
To prevent Osgood-Schlatter disease, have your child stretch and warm up properly before practices or games. They should also avoid any activity that causes pain or discomfort.
No parent wants to see their child in pain. However, injuries are unfortunately a common part of playing sports. By knowing the signs and symptoms of common sports injuries, you can be prepared if your child does experience one. If injuries continue to cause pain and discomfort or continue to get worse, schedule an appointment with Dr. Larson!