It’s back-to-school time! For many students, that means getting back into athletics like football, soccer, field hockey, cross country, volleyball, and more. While high school sports come with many benefits, they also present an inherent risk of injury. However, there are steps parents and student-athletes can take to help prevent sports injuries this season.
After a relaxing summer, young athletes must ease back into a strength and conditioning regimen. Heading into a sports season without proper conditioning increases vulnerability to sprains, strains, and fractures. Preseason training should focus on sport-specific drills, weight training, core strength, and balance exercises.
Many injuries, especially in young athletes, result from poor fundamentals and mechanics. Coaches should spend ample time rehearsing proper form for athletic maneuvers like jumping, cutting, tackling, and more at the start of the season. At home, parents can also watch for muscle imbalances or awkward movements in their child and help strengthen their kid’s fundamentals through play and practice at home.
Allowing for adequate time for recovery is vital to an athlete’s success. Sports strains and impact injuries often occur when bodies haven’t fully recovered from the prior day’s activity. Make sure student-athletes take rest days and do easy recovery workouts between intense training sessions. Sleep is also crucial for body repair. Athletes should always aim for 8-10 hours of sleep per night.
Warming up and cooling down is also crucial to avoiding injury. Never allow a child to jump straight into competition or strenuous play. Warm-ups prep the muscles and mind for activity. Cooldowns prevent post-exercise stiffness and soreness. Make sure coaches incorporate at least 10 minutes for each into practices and games.
Ensure kids wear all recommended protective gear for their sport, including knee and elbow pads, athletic shoes, shin guards, and more. Ankle or knee braces provide extra support if needed. Do not allow compromised or ill-fitted equipment that leaves the body vulnerable.
Lastly, never encourage or allow your child to play through an injury. This only makes injuries worse. Instruct your child to alert their coaches about any unusual pain during activity so they can be evaluated before returning to play. Early reporting of symptoms helps prevent minor injuries from turning into major ones.
By following these tips, parents and young athletes can work together to stay healthy, prevent injury, and ensure a successful sports season ahead. Here’s to a safe, strong, and injury-free fall sports season!
Dr. Daniel Savarino, DO, is a sport and regenerative medicine specialist in Tinton Falls. He is an established and highly skilled physician specializing in sports and regenerative medicine, pain management, anti-aging therapies, and aesthetics. If you or your child suffers from a sports-related injury, reach out! Prompt care after an injury is often the key to recovery. Complete the patient inquiry form on our website to activate an appointment with one of our Patient Advisors, or call (732) 385-2739. Visit regeneratenj.com to learn more.