Thursday, September 5, 2013

Preventing School Sports Injuries

With fall just around the corner, high school students will soon be hitting the gridiron iron fields, the soccer pitch and the rugged terrains of cross-country running. These sports provide another opportunity for children to get active, opening their minds to dreams of becoming great champions, and creating lasting memories. For those athletes however, who have been sitting by the pool or at the beach over the summer and who have neglected their early season training, September can be a prime time for injury.

Why do injuries occur?

There are multiple reasons why young athletes can become injured, these include returning to full activity participation too quickly, biomechanical issues, improper equipment and not having a physical exam before starting training and especially after recovering from an injury or health issue.

Types of injuries

Young athletes usually sustain three types of injuries:
  1. Acute injury which occurs from a single, traumatic event such as broken bones, sprains, concussions and dislocations. 
  2. Overuse injuries which are injuries that occur over time from repetitive actions. Some overuse injuries can include shin splints, tendinitis and stress fractures. 
  3. Recurrent injuries which are injuries sustained when an athlete returns to the playing field before the injury has fully healed, or if he or she returns too fast, rather than gradually building fitness. 
How to teach student athletes to play safe 
  1. Physical exams at the beginning of the season allow athletes to be prescreened for injuries or health issues. 
  2. Warm ups and cool downs should be done before and after any physical activity. A light jog will bring the athletes heart rate up from the resting rate. Jogging warms the muscles, which are more susceptible to injury when cold. Cool downs bring the heart rate down and help clear the build-up of lactic acid, allowing athletes to be less sore, thus expediting recovery for the next day. 
  3. Using proper training techniques and equipment teaches good fundamentals while minimizing injuries in the short and long term. Improper technique can lead to serious injuries; explaining and demonstrating the right way to perform a skill is crucial in injury prevention and development of the athlete. Using gear which fits and which is appropriate to the sport helps prevent injuries and keeps the athlete safe. 
  4. Gradually increase training to allow athletes to adjust and recover properly. An off-season program is also beneficial to your athletes as it allows them to stay in shape, without having to start from scratch at the beginning of the season. 
Many school sports injuries are preventable through proper training, use of proper equipment and right conditioning. To build a successful team you have to have all your athletes’ healthy and ready to contribute. Keeping your team healthy makes the experience more memorable and gives your team the best chance of achieving its goals.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Brumitt J. Injury Prevention for High School Female Cross-Country Athletes. Athletic Therapy Today. July 2009;14(4):8-12.
2. INJURY PREVENTION AND PERFORMANCE. Journal Of Pure Power. April 2009;4(2):58-60.
3. Knowles S, Marshall S, Guskiewicz K. Issues in Estimating Risks and Rates in Sports Injury Research. Journal Of Athletic Training. April 2006;41(2):207-215.
4. R C C. The prevention of catastrophic head and spine injuries in high school and college sports. British Journal Of Sports Medicine. December 2009;43(13):981-986.
5. Sarmiento K, Mitchko J, Klein C, Wong S. Evaluation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Concussion Initiative for High School Coaches: “Heads Up: Concussion in High School Sports”. Journal Of School Health. March 2010;80(3):112-118. 
6. Shanley E, Rauh M, Michener L, Ellenbecker T. Incidence of Injuries in High School Softball and Baseball Players. Journal Of Athletic Training. November 2011;46(6):648-654. 
7. Yang J, Bowling J, Lewis M, Marshall S, Runyan C, Mueller F. Use of Discretionary Protective Equipment in High School Athletes: Prevalence and Determinants. American Journal Of Public Health. November 2005;95(11):1996-2002.


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