School is almost back in session. But before the books are open, the school sports fields are covered with young athletes eager to make a team this fall. Whether your child is a student-athlete in middle or high school, playing for a travel sports team, or just playing a backyard pick-up game, sports are a great way to stay healthy and active.
Unfortunately, far too often injuries can arise to the foot and/or ankle. If you want your child to stay off the sideline and in the game follow these guidelines from Kalmar Family Podiatry:
- Stretch: Stretching is often overlooked but it is the best way to reduce injury. Cold, tight muscles and soft tissues are more likely to strain, pull, and/or tear. Warm-up prior to activity to stay loose and less likely to get hurt.
- It’s All About The Shoe Gear: 1 - There are a couple of questions to ask yourself. Does the shoe or cleat fit? Middle school and high school children are all over the growth charts; their feet are no exception. Ill-fitting shoes increase the risk for a foot or ankle injury. 2 - Are the shoes new? Make sure your child breaks in their new sport cleat prior to the start of their season. New cleats straight out of the box and onto the field can cause severe pain and discomfort. Also, hand-me-downs are great, but cleats should be excluded. Shoes and cleats have a life expectancy and can only last so long. 3 - Are the cleats/shoes right for the sport? Each sport requires different actions and motions for the foot and ankle. Sport-specific cleats are an easy way for your child to reduce the risk of injury. 4 - Do they provide enough support? Proper support in a shoe can align the foot properly and take the stress off of certain tendons, ligaments and bones. Sometimes a shoe is not enough and the use of an orthotic is necessary.
- Sport Preparedness: Many children in the summertime are not as active as they usually are during the school year. This increases their chances of sustaining a foot and/or ankle injury. Ideally, these children should start slow and gradually increase their work-out/training intensity weekly to allow the body the time needed to adjust to the physical demands.
- Rest: Rest is equally as important. Giving your body time to rest and recover between training sessions is crucial for staying injury-free.
- Listening To The Body: This may be the most important step to stay off the sideline this season. Pain is an indication of overuse. Most times pushing through the pain can take a small injury and make it potentially season-ending. Seeing your child limping or in clear discomfort is a sign that they need to rest. The hardest thing for a young athlete is to be able to listen to their body and know when they need to stop or sit-out.
We hope your young athlete stays injury-free this fall season by following these simple guidelines. But, if injuries do occur and simple rest is not improving symptoms then one should seek professional help.