Fall Sports Injuries

Posted on 05-24-2024 in youth sports, Sports Medicine & sports injuries by Dr. Chris O'Grady, Dr. Roger Ostrander

It’s back-to-school time in Northwest Florida, which means the return of high school sports for the fall season, including football, volleyball, golf, cross country, swimming, and diving. As students begin to practice and train again, it is crucial to recognize that soft-tissue injuries are often part of a quick return to sports after a less active summer.

These types of injuries are typically categorized in one of two ways – acute and overuse. Acute injuries are caused by sudden trauma like a fall or taking a body blow resulting in injuries like an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tear in the knee, or a Rotator Cuff Tear in the shoulder. Overuse injuries happen gradually over time when an area of the body doesn’t have ample time to heal between occurrences. These can include injuries such as Little Leaguer’s Elbow and SLAP tears in the shoulder.

While much emphasis is placed on injuries during competitions or games, student-athletes are also susceptible to injuries during practice or training activities. Developing a balanced fitness program is one way to help your student-athlete stay healthy all season. These routines should incorporate cardiovascular exercise, strength training and improved flexibility. New activities should be considered cautiously, as too many can do more harm than good. Whether they have been sedentary or are in great physical shape, adding no more than one or two new exercises per workout is best.

Additionally, the following reminders are also essential to help your child avoid injury while at practice or competing, regardless of the sport they participate in:

  • Proper Footwear & Clothing: Be sure to purchase the appropriate footwear for the designated sport and replace your child’s athletic shoes as they wear out. In addition to wearing the designated uniforms during competition, students should wear clothing to practice that’s lightweight and moisture-wicking to release body heat. Practice clothing should also be comfortable so they can move freely as they train.
  • Warm-Up: Students should have a warm-up routine that increases their heart rate and blood flow while loosening up muscles, tendons and ligaments. This can be accomplished by running in place for a few minutes, breathing slowly and deeply, or gently rehearsing the motions of the exercise to follow.
  • Stretching: After warming up correctly, your child should stretch carefully until reaching a point of muscle tension. They should inhale, stretch and hold for 10 to 20 seconds, then slowly release it as they exhale. They should be mindful to avoid stretching to the point that they are in pain and should never bounce on a fully extended muscle.
  • Cool-Down: While it might be tempting for your student to walk off the field after practice, they should have a cool-down routine as part of their regimen. Generally, they should take twice as long to cool down as they did to warm up. Using slow, deliberate motions, they should lessen the intensity of their movements for at least 10 minutes before they stop altogether.
  • Hydrate: Maintaining proper hydration levels is especially critical in Northwest Florida due to the heat and humidity levels that can be extreme well into the fall. On average, they should drink a pint of water 15 minutes before they begin training or competing and another after they cool down. Ideally, they should drink water every 20 minutes or so while active.
  • Rest: Often overlooked or seemingly impossible between practice and scheduled events and games, taking time off is integral to maintaining their health. Planning regular days off from vigorous exercise and rest when tired should be prioritized, especially regarding avoiding overuse injuries.

For additional information on how to help your child return safely to fall sports, read our Youth Sports Injury Prevention blog post.

If your child has experienced an acute injury or you suspect they may be suffering from an overuse injury, seek medical attention promptly. Continuing to play or practice can worsen the injury and potentially prolong your student athlete’s recovery. As experts in their field, Dr. Chris O’Grady and Dr. Roger Ostrander provide specialized care for various youth sports injuries and conditions. Learn more about our orthopaedic and sports medicine specialists or request an appointment online today.

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