Kids and Sports Injuries

by Barbara Foster

Sports are a big part of our lives; we watch the games on Sundays, we cheer for our favorite teams, and we practice with our own teams for seasonal sports. But though there is a lot to be enjoyed, regardless of the sports you play, sports injuries can be huge setbacks, both personally and for our teams. Learning more about sports injuries can help you to better understand how to avoid sports injuries and minimize your visits to a physical therapist's office.

Strains and Sprains

Muscle and tendon strains can happen regardless of the sport being played and to any part of the body. Our muscles and tendons are used during sports to create our movements, like jumps or kicks. While being overused or misused, they can get stretched or torn from our bones. Overexertion and playing while injured or shortly after are two of the most common causes of muscle strains. When a muscle is strained, you might feel pain, spasms, weakness, cramping, swelling, or trouble moving. If you experience any of those symptoms, it's time to take a break. Resting and alternating ice and heat are common ways of treating a strain. Seeing a doctor or physical therapist is also a good idea, as they'll be able to more accurately diagnose an injury.

A sprain is a little different than a strain. Sprains can happen when we fall on or twist a joint. They are usually signaled by pain, swelling, bruising, or an inability to move a joint comfortably. In some cases, you might hear a pop or tear when the injury occurs: Sounds painful, right? The treatment of a sprain is very similar to a strain; avoid using the muscle, rest, and apply hot and cold compresses. A doctor should also be seen as soon as possible.

To avoid strains and sprains, make sure you have the right equipment for the sport you're playing; it's amazing what the right shoes can do for athletes of all types. Having a healthy lifestyle and weight can also help to condition our bodies to be in the best shape to avoid injuries. Warming up and stretching is very important; it takes just a few minutes to stretch your muscles for activity.

  • Sprains and Strains: Learn more about strains and sprains. The more you know, the better you'll be able to perform without injury.
  • Sprains, Strains, and Sports Injuries: These types of sports injuries are very common, so learn to recognize some of their signs and address them early.
  • Knee Sprains and Strains: Our knees are very sensitive; use this information to help you recognize and treat very minor injuries.

Protect Your Growth Plates

When we're young, our bodies are still growing and developing. Because of this, we need to be sure that our growing bodies are protected, especially our growth plates. Growth plates are areas of developing tissue in our long bones, like in our hands, forearms, legs, and feet. If these areas of tissue are injured, it may affect how they grow and develop. When an injury to any of these areas of the body is sustained, it's important that you see a specialist, like an orthopedic surgeon, who specializes in these cases.

  • Growth Plate Injuries: These FAQs about growth plate injuries are a great place to start. Learn the basics and how to protect yourself from injury.
  • What Are Growth Plate Injuries?: The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia helps us learn more about our growth plates and how growth plate injuries can impact us.
  • About Growth Plate Injuries: This resource offers brief information and diagrams to help us understand growth plate injuries.

Repeated Stress-Related Injuries

Carrying out the same movement over and over again can wear down our body parts. We see this in many different sports, including volleyball, track and field, and others. Stress fractures and tendonitis are two of the most prevalent injuries related to repetitive motion. It's important to know that these injuries may not show up on an X-ray, but they do cause discomfort and pain and should be treated with care. Rest is often the first solution for these injuries, but if an injury is severe enough, a doctor might suggest a cast, crutches, or at the very least a visit to the physical therapist.

  • Risk Factors of Stress Fractures: HealthyChildren.org has an easy-to-follow risk factor guide on stress fractures. Use this information to see what your risk of a stress fracture might be.
  • Stress Fractures of the Foot: The foot is very sensitive to stress fractures; learn more about stress fractures and what to do if you sustain this injury.

Heat-Related Issues

Many sports are played outside, and when that's the case, it's important that we know how being outside will affect us. For example, on a hot summer day playing baseball or football, it's important that we not get overheated. Listen closely to your body and to your coach, and stop to rehydrate your body frequently to prevent dehydration. Heat exhaustion, characterized by nausea, weakness, dizziness, and fainting, can also be very dangerous. Even more serious is heat stroke, which includes symptoms like dizziness, confusion, and coma. The best way to avoid these illnesses is to stay hydrated: Drink water and drinks with electrolytes to replenish your body.