Cross country, field hockey, football, soccer, volleyball. The list goes on and on. Winter sports are soon approaching and children are preparing to head into game season. They are stocking up on things such as uniforms, equipment, and team spirit. However, children and parents are overlooking one key thing this sports season: preventing sports-related foot injuries.
All types of athletes are at risk of foot or ankle injuries while being active. In my work as a podiatrist, I often see children with sports-related injuries. Some common sports that I see include soccer and football, but really any sport that requires running can cause injury. However, most sports-related foot injuries are preventable. Here are tips to protect your kids during this sports season!
Find the Perfect Shoe
What do athletes and Cinderella have in common? The need for the perfect shoe! Pick a pair of shoes that is specific to your foot type and can provide support where needed. Keep in mind every sport is played different and requires your body to move in different ways. It’s important to buy the type of shoe that is required by that sport. Always start a new season with new shoes. Old shoes can be worn down and uneven, this can cause the ankle to tilt or the arch to fall. The biggest problem that I see is children wearing flip-flops while doing any type of outdoor activity. Due to their lack of support, these types of shoes can easily cause sprains and strains as well as hurt your child’s knees, lower back, and hips.
The type of shoes you’re putting on your kid’s feet are extremely important. There should be enough support in a shoe to balance a kid. A good website that parents can go to check shoe recommendations for children and adults is APMA.ORG
Have Old Sports Injuries Check Out
It is important to have a medical exam before the season starts to know if a previous injury is vulnerable to further injury or stress. A pre-season physical can also help identify if more support or protection is needed for previous injuries. Not to mention, if your athlete is in a good state to play this season.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
I always tell parents that a child should be stretching before and after practice. It is extremely important to always warm up before any physical activity to prepare your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels. Just as important, have your athlete cool down after physical activity. Cooling down helps prevent injuries by stopping the pooling of blood in the lower extremities of your body. It also helps prevent muscle soreness.
All athletes, regardless of age, need to get enough rest. A lack of sleep and muscle fatigue isn’t a good combination. Muscles that are being overworked are more prone to injury.
Seek Treatment Immediately
It’s important to get an injury examined and treated as soon as possible. This is because certain injuries can lead to long term problems, such as arthritis. By getting treatment sooner, you are lowering the likelihood of experiencing these long-term problems.