5 Common Sports Injuries in Youth, and How to Prevent Them

Youth SportsAs the beginning of the school year approaches, students will be signing up in droves to have their sports physicals. July 15 through 21 also happens to be National Youth Sports Week, which focuses on how youth sports organizations and members of Congress can collaborate to promote healthy lifestyles for children and their families through sports. 

As a result of both, sports injury diagnosis and prevention is on the brain. Getting a physical, and maintaining a good diet and exercise regimen, are two of the best methods of prevention. Nonetheless, we thought it would be a good idea to discuss the five most common sports injuries in youth, and how to prevent them. Let’s dive right in.

The Most Common Sports Injuries in Youth

In no particular order, the most common sports injuries in youth are: concussions, fractures, sprains/strains, ACL tears, and shoulder injuries. Injuries like these are typically diagnosed using imaging tests like X-Rays, CT scans, MRIs, ultrasounds, etc… Now that you know what they are, let’s talk about how to prevent them.

1. Concussions 

A concussion is one type of traumatic brain injury, also commonly referred to as a TBI. These TBIs are typically caused by a bump, jolt, or blow to the head, or sometimes a hit to the body that causes the brain and head to rapidly move backwards and forwards. 

Sudden movements or impacts to the head can cause your brain to bounce around, or twist inside your skull, resulting in changes to the chemical composition of your brain. This can lead to stretching and/or damage to your brain cells. 

So, how can you prevent a concussion? A few options include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Wear helmets at all times for sports that require it (For example, you should keep your baseball helmet on. The average speed of a fastball when it’s pitched for youth pitchers aged 11-12 is 60 mph, and 75 mph up to the age of 18. If it were to make an impact with someone’s head who wasn’t wearing a helmet, the results could be catastrophic.)
  • Enforce fouls to deter intentional head injuries (i.e. basketball is not intended to be a contact sport. Therefore, fouls must be called when players intentionally injure each other)
  • Always have a spotter with cheerleaders doing stunts
  • Stay alert when engaging in sports that don’t require helmets such as lacrosse, soccer, volleyball, wrestling, etc… 

Remember, it’s better to miss the point or lose the game than risk a blow to the head.

2. Fractures

Fractures can occur when there is more force applied to the bone than the bone can absorb. While these sports injuries may be difficult to prevent, there are a few things you can do to avoid injury including:

  • Always wear the right gear. If your sport requires helmets, pads, or other equipment, it’s there for a reason.
  • Do exercises that increase your flexibility. While youth bones already heal faster than adults, it never hurts to engage in activities like yoga to make your body more malleable to stress.
  • Although it’s already commonplace to enforce rules, it is critical to inform coaches and sporting officials in the event someone is not playing by them. When intentional fouls are occurring, injuries such as these can happen as a result. Referees and officials don’t see everything. Therefore, it’s critical you speak up if you are seeing players roughhouse too much.
  • If you think you might have an injury, stop playing. Continuing past the point that you believe you already have a fracture can result in further damage.
  • While this one might not seem as obvious, be sure to get an eye exam. Falls and missteps can occur when the player doesn’t see everything clearly.

3. Sprains/Strains 

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases:

“A sprain is an injury to a ligament (tissue that connects two or more bones at a joint). When a sprain happens, one or more ligaments is stretched or torn.

A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon (fibrous cords of tissue that connect muscle to bone). In a strain, a muscle or tendon is stretched or torn”.

To prevent these types of injuries, your youth sports player should:

  • Wear gear that fits correctly (i.e. shoes that don’t fit correctly can result in slipping, twisting, and falling)
  • Perform stretches daily, especially before game time
  • Don’t play a sport while fatigued or injured as further injuries can occur as a result

4. ACL Tears 

ACL tears are a sprain or tear of your anterior cruciate ligament – a major ligament in your knee. According to the Mayo Clinic, “ACL injuries most commonly occur during sports that involve sudden stops or changes in direction, jumping and landing — such as soccer, basketball, football, and downhill skiing.”

How can you prevent an ACL tear? 

  • Train and condition all year round, not just before the season is going to begin, or the big game is approaching
  • Do lunges, squats, and other knee exercises regularly 
  • Practice the proper techniques for landing after jumps
  • Warm-up your muscles and ligaments before every practice, and especially before every game
  • Strengthen and maintain the strength of your core
  • Wear proper footwear

5. Shoulder Injuries

The most common shoulder injuries are a superior labral tear from anterior to posterior (SLAP tear), an injury to the rotator cuff, and shoulder instability.

The best way to prevent shoulder injuries include:

  • Stretching to keep the muscles and ligaments loose and malleable
  • Warming up before intense activities
  • Don’t lift weights every day, and don’t try to lift too much – talk to your doctor about how many days, and how much weight your body can handle. For example, you might only be able to handle lifting weights three to five times per week. 
  • If you already feel pain in your shoulders, avoid exercises like pull-ups, pushups, overhead presses, etc… for a while

Prevent Injuries – Get Your Sports Physical Before Extracurricular Seasons Begin

If you take nothing else from this article, please keep this in mind – get your sports physical before the season begins. The point of having the physical is to catch things ahead of time that if left unchecked could lead to problems in the future. Other than that, our best advice is to work out, stretch, and maintain a healthy diet. The best way to prevent most injuries is to keep your body healthy, inside and out.

To learn more about GO Imaging’s facilities and why you should choose us for your diagnostic imaging and testing, click here. To schedule your diagnostic imaging needs, contact our Humble or Houston office to speak to one of our friendly team members! 

Posted in: Health & Wellness, Radiology

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