Most parents look forward to the day their children become involved with sports, but there are risks that go along with the fun of playing a sport. Whether your child is playing peewee football, varsity basketball, gymnastics or any other competitive sport, there are several common health threats you should be aware of. Sports injuries are on the rise, one factor being that there are more children involved with sports today than ever before in history.
Depending on the age of your child, he or she may or may not initially know they are possibly hurt. Make a point to routinely talk with your child and find out if they are having any specific problems which may indicate an injury. They should also know that they should let an adult know that something is wrong or possibly hurt.
Some of the most common sports injuries are not life threatening, but some could lead to more serious health conditions if not treated or ignored. Here is a guide that points to a few of the most common health threats any athlete may encounter:
Muscle cramps can hit at any given time. Most of the time muscle cramps hit at the most inopportune time when they occur, such as in the middle of a play on the football field. Muscle cramps can be avoided by staying well hydrated and drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after any sporting event. Sports drinks such as Gatorade will replace the fluids and minerals your body loses when sweating during sporting events.
Sprains are a part of sports activity and chances are that your child will encounter a sprain at some time during his or her athletic career. A sprain occurs when one or more ligaments are overstretched. Sprains are best treated with rest, ice, compression and elevation of injured area. See a doctor if you think a sprain may be more serious as damage or a tear could be done to the muscle tissue and possibly be a serious injury.
Overworking a group of muscles for any period of time can cause muscle stiffness. When a sport is first taken up the conditioning can often lead to muscle stiffness. This stiffness usually works itself out with proper stretching and additional light exercise. Massage therapy may be used for severe cases of muscle stiffness.
Heel Spur Syndrome (Plantar Fascititis)
Heel spurs can affect anyone, but are more prone to runners, gymnasts, sports that require a lot of running or anyone putting a lot of strain on the foot. Make an appointment with your child’s doctor if they are complaining about their heels hurting.
Staph infections can be a serious problem in the locker room because they are infectious. Staph infections may start with just a small bump on the skin. However, that small bump could cause a serious health problem to your child and to others if it spreads. Staph infections can spread all over the body and even into your lungs and bones. If your child has a sore that does not heal, it is best to cover it and make an appointment with the doctor to have it checked out. Open wounds are susceptible to bacteria and should always be covered when playing competitive sports.
Make sure your child understands the importance of practicing good hygiene by washing hands with soap and water often. They should also make a point to not share things such as towels, soap, uniforms, etc. in the locker room. A can of disinfectant spray should also be used in the locker room to disinfect mats, lockers, equipment, etc.
It is very important that your child knows that he or she should always report a suspected injury as soon as possible to the coach and also to you. It may not seem serious at the time, but could become a serious injury if the proper care is not administered as soon as possible.
Injuries are not fun, but a part of the sports experience. Teach your children how to avoid or reduce the risks of common sports injuries and to always have any suspected injury evaluated by an adult or health care personnel.
And last, but not least, enjoy your child’s sports experiences! Sports can be an enjoyable part of your family’s life for many years to come.
Common sports injuries, brochure from North Oaks Health System