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The Top 9 Questions Parents Have About Kid's Sports Injuries

Lots of parents have similar questions about their children's sports injuries. Most questions are centered on how they can prevent injuries and secondarily, what to do if their child gets hurt. Here are the top nine frequently asked questions and some simple answers.

1. How can sports injuries be prevented?

  • Many sports injuries are caused by stress from overuse and from the strains or inflammation around tendon insertions. A few tips to help avoid injuries include:
  • An athlete should have good nutrition and hydration prior to a practice or a game
  • An athlete should be well rested and alert.
  • Most importantly, the athlete should have good pre-season/pre-game training that includes stretching and flexibility skills, strengthening skills for the entire body, balance and coordination skills, plyometric skills and agility skills.

2. How many hours a week should young athletes train?

  • This answer is age and sport specific. The greater the intensity of the sport on the muscle and joints, the more rest is needed. Here is a general guideline:
    • 3-4 years old: 30-45 minutes, two times a week (including games)
    • 5-7 years old: 45-60 minutes, two to three times a week (including games)
    • 8-12 years old: one to two hours, three times a week (including games)
    • 13-18 years old: one and a half to two hours, four to five times a week (including games)
  • Remember that participating in different sports, instead of the same sport year round, will decrease the risk of overuse injuries. It is recommended to vary practices and strength programs to rotate the different muscles throughout the week. In other words, don't just run all the time. Mix in weights, jumping and stretching.

3. What can I do after an injury to decrease the severity of the injury?

  • P-R-I-C-E - Protect, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate.
  • The best thing to do after an injury occurs is to ice the injured area 15-20 minutes with elevation and compression. Repeat 15-20 minutes of ice every hour to the injured area. Keep the area protected, elevated and use compression in between icings. This should be continued every hour while awake for 48-72 hours.

4. What can I do for my child who is in pain?

  • Ice like described. OTC pain medication like ibuprofen or Tylenol (if not allergic) 10mg/kg of nody weight.

5. When do I apply ice to an injury? When do I apply heat to an injury?

  • Ice: Ice is applied for the first 48-72 injuries. Use ice when there is swelling or as prevention after a workout or game. It is never recommended to use ice before practice or a game. The numbness from the ice may cause the athlete to injure themselves more.
  • Heat: Heat is beneficial pre-practice or pre-game to an area that is stiff, as this will warm-up the muscles decreasing the risk of muscle strains. Heat is also beneficial when an athlete has dull/achy pain. Never use heat when swelling is present.

6. How long should my child rest before returning to activities?

  • Your child should rest from physical activity until he/she is able to demonstrate pain-free activity. The athlete should be able to walk and run without a limp or pain. There should be no physical evidence of a functional deficit while the athlete is participating in their sport.

7. What is the role of bracing or taping an injured area?

  • An injured area should be protected when there is an unstable joint that needs proprioceptive (body awareness) input and stability. Bracing is a better option than taping, as taping often becomes ineffective after 5-10 minutes of vigorous activity. It is not recommended to brace a joint that has not been previously injured. The brace can "take over" the role of the supporting muscles and in return, the muscles become weaker allowing the joint to be at higher risk of injury. If an athlete is in need of some form of bracing, it is recommended to do a strength-training program to the area to wean off of the brace.

8. Under what conditions should an athlete seek medical attention for an injury?

  • It is never wrong to seek medical advice for your child's injury. Immediate medical attention is needed when the athlete has:
    • Inability to bear weight on the inured area after 30 minutes of ice and rest
    • Obvious deformity of the joint (fracture, dislocation)
    • Persistent swelling or pain
    • Inability to return to sport or physical activity without pain
    • Repetitive injury to the same location

9. How do I know if my child needs orthotics?

  • Children benefit from orthotics when they have a significant underlying congenital foot problem like really flat feet or extremely high arches; AND this foot deformity is causing repetitive injuries. Repetitive stress injuries are often caused by faulty biomechanics and can be controlled with functional foot orthotics. You want to discuss orthotic therapy with your physician if your child seems to be getting injured over and over. Other reasons for your child to need orthotics are kinetic chain disorders. This means that their foot type is causing stress injuries in other parts of their body; like their knees, hips or lower back. Orthotics are often prescribed to "perform a tire realignment" on a child's foot to decrease stress in other parts of their body. The best way to determine the need for an orthotic is a comprehensive biomechanical exam at your podiatrist.

These are the top 9 questions parents ask about their child's sports injuries. Hope they help keep your kids safe and enjoying all their sports!