Best 7 Ways To Avoid High School Sports Injury
Nearly 30 million children and adolescents are participating in sports in the U.S. This high number of participants means an increase in sports injury potential.
In fact, high school athletes account for nearly 2 million injuries per year with 62% of these occurring in practice! These alarming numbers can be reduced if our younger athletes are properly prepared and precautions are taken.
1) Avoid poor conditioning
Poor conditioning is probably one of the more common reasons for muscle strains, sprains and other types of sports injury. Those who participate in fall sports are especially susceptible to sports injury. This is because the summer is usually filled with pool days, vacations, and relaxing. It is important that your athlete has a good structured training program to help them stay in shape, maintain endurance and build coordination. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time either. Just 30-40 minutes of exercise can make all the difference to athletic performance and sports injury prevention.
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2) Stay hydrated
Water is important for all major bodily functions including cell integrity maintenance, absorbing nutrients, lubricating joints and aiding in circulation. Most high school athletes are not hydrating properly. They may be drinking water while on the field, but they may not be getting enough water before and after activity. Even mild dehydration can lead to injury because it causes muscle fatigue, lack of concentration, and low energy. Athletes are encouraged to drink at least 16 ounces of water before and after a game or practice to stay hydrated.
3) Get Adequate Sleep
Sleeping is the time when our bodies recover and repair. Sleep is vital for both muscle and mental recovery. If your athlete is getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night, they will be more susceptible to sports injury. Poor sleep is also linked to weight gain due to hormonal changes that occur if adequate sleep is not achieved. Sleep is important for everyone, and your high school athlete is no exception. Studies have shown that getting at least 8 hours of sleep will improve athletic performance, speed and endurance. Not only that, but proper sleep improves problem solving skills, increases memory and helps with concentration; which are all things needed to do well in school.
4) Improve mobility
You may be thinking that high school aged kids, especially athletes, have great mobility. This is not always the case. In fact, limited mobility or poor movement of joints can be quite common in athletes. This is partially due to changes in their bodies and growth spurts. Learning the proper way to move and exercise to prevent sports injury and improve strength is very important. Exercises such as yoga and multifunctional movement are great way to increase mobility and strength.
5) More effective warm-up
I’ve seen athletes of all ages warm-up before a game or practice. So many are just not doing enough proper warm-up before games and practice. Jogging a few laps and doing some static hamstring stretching just isn’t enough. Actually, it has been shown that static stretching before sport or physical activity will make you more susceptible to sports injury. This is because active stretching can make your muscles weak. Studies have shown a 5.5% reduction in muscle strength with static stretching. This is quite significant when talking about warm-up and sport injury prevention.
What is a proper warm-up? It’s one that is active and mimics the sport that you are participating in. For example, soccer players do a lot of kicking and dribbling. A great active warm-up is one that involves repetitively kicking the leg as high as you can. This will actively stretch the hamstrings and better prepare them for playing. Learn more about static vs. active stretching here.
6) Don’t ignore pain
This doesn’t just go out to high school athletes. This is for everyone out there who ignores pain and thinks “it’ll just go away on its own”. The truth is that maybe it will. The body has an incredible ability to heal itself. Strained and pulled muscles will heal over time. The real issue with ignoring pain is that your body will start to compensate for the painful motion. These compensations lead to tightness, weakness and imbalance and can cause a more serious injury or a condition that is more chronic and does not “go away on its own”. Make sure your athlete (or yourself for that matter) have painful conditions checked out by a physical therapist early before things get worse.
7) Try other sports
There’s a lot of pressure on young athletes to excel in one sport. The growth of “off-season” leagues has allowed for all year participation in a single sport. However, this has led to an increase in sports related injuries. The truth is that specializing and playing only one sport throughout the year may actually be hurting your child’s performance! Many parents believe that if they expose their child to just one sport that they will excel and be better. This is just not true. Statistics show that children who participate year-round in just one sport are 70-90% more likely to be injured than those who participate in multiple sports throughout the year. Studies have shown that more than 85% of college athletes participated in more than one sport growing up. I know this seems contradictory but allowing your high school athlete to play other sports will likely allow them to become a more well-rounded athlete.
Sports participation is very important to your child and keeping them on the field can have tremendous influence on their futures. Make sure that your high school athlete is sticking to the above guidelines to have optimal success. It’s also important to ensure that your athlete is getting proper training. Just because they hit the gym as a team to stay in shape doesn’t mean that they are properly conditioning. Most high school teams have athletic trainers on site to help, and that’s a great thing! However, these trainers may not necessarily be able to properly advise your child on proper exercise technique and performance when they are supervising 20-30 people.
If you want to have your high school athlete evaluated for sports injury or if you’re looking for a good one-on-one program to help prevent injury, let us know. We have a program specifically designed for high school athletes to do just that! Contact us today at (301) 356-5500 to learn more or click the link below.
Optimize Therapy and Fitness
10981 Johns Hopkins Road Suite 210, Laurel, MD 20723