I am a mom of two student athletes, so I am well aware that injuries can happen. My son runs cross-country, and my daughter did competitive cheerleading. They have both suffered sprains and other small injuries. I reached out to Marc Schneider, MD, with The Christ Hospital Physicians – Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, to ask some questions I had in hopes of helping other parents.
Common injuries with children in sports
My daughter suffered from a few injuries while she was a cheerleader. Most of it came from tumbling on a hard basketball court. I wondered what the most common injuries Dr. Schneider sees from his patients.
He told me, "There are two general categories of injuries in kids — traumatic (sprains/strains, fractures) vs. overuse (tendinitis, stress injuries). ACL tears, meniscus tear, labral tears, shoulder dislocations and ankle sprains are some the more common traumatic injuries. Osgood-Schlatter Disease, apophysitis and stress fractures are examples of overuse injuries."
The last thing you want as a parent is to see your child get injured while doing their favorite sport. So, what are some ways they can prepare for the upcoming sports season?
Dr. Schneider said, "Proper technique, good equipment, good nutrition, hydration, warmups—including dynamic and static stretching to improve joint flexibility and blood flow to the muscles—are all helpful in preventing sports injuries."
My kids must get a sports physical every year, and I wondered how important that is for the kids. Dr. Schneider says they are very important, and he explained it to me this way, "A sports physical is a very focused physical exam looking for any pre-existing condition, anatomic malalignment, strength imbalance or loss of joint flexibility that could put the athlete at increased risk of injury."
Pro Tip: Talk to your family physician about scheduling a sports physical. If you're pressed for time, sports physicals are also available at any of The Christ Hospital's convenient Urgent Care locations.
Watching out for injuries
If my child has an injury, what I should look for and when should I seek medical attention?
Dr. Schneider recommended, "Early recognition of an injury is key. If there is any significant swelling, loss of range of motion, deformity or difficulty with weight-bearing, then you should seek immediate medical attention."
There are injuries that do not need medical attention, but when the kids are sore, there are some things we can do to help ease the pain. Dr. Schneider gave me a great acronym to remember: RICE. "Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation can be helpful in the initial treatment of any sports injury." He also advised to not let kids "play through the pain." If you are injured, you need to rest!
Pro Tip: Injuries often happen at the most inconvenient times. You can get specialized care for strains, sprains, sports injuries, and back and neck injuries at The Christ Hospital Orthopedic After-Hours Clinic. We're open late, Monday-Friday, 5 - 9 p.m., at The Christ Hospital Joint & Spine Center in Mt. Auburn. No appointment needed!
Cross training can prevent stress injuries
I love watching my kids play sports and cheering them on, but I also want them to be healthy. Dr. Schneider had some important information on staying healthy so they do not miss any of their season.
He suggested, "Avoid over specialization in one particular sport. Performing the same type of activity repetitively increases the risk for stress injuries (overuse of bone, growth plates, ligaments and tendons). Studies show that participating in multiple sports leads to better muscle control/reflexes and improved levels of fitness. Taking off at least one day a week, and at least one month a year, from a particular sport allows the body time to recover and stay healthy."
The Christ Hospital Physicians - Orthopedics and Sports Medicine provides comprehensive care to keep you moving and doing what you love. Learn more about conditions they treat and how to schedule your appointment.