Back to school means it won’t be long before our local student athletes take to the field to play soccer, football, volleyball, cheer or some other fall sport. Staying active is ideal for building strong bones and weight-bearing activities such as running and playing sports help to achieve that goal but we also want to achieve our goals safely and without injury. That is why Georgia Bone and Joint has joined the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) many other supporters of young athletes in the STOP Sports Injuries campaign. STOP stands for Sports Trauma and Overuse Prevention. We are urging our kids to stay active, but to keep safety first when engaging in these activities.
Of course, we know that all injuries cannot be prevented but many can be avoided. Hopefully these young athletes that will be taking the field this fall have been preparing, acclimatizing to the Georgia heat and humidity, participating in a broad-based fitness program (including play!),and, as is appropriate, resting from year around participation in any one sport. The physicians at Georgia Bone and Joint join with the AAOS and the STOP Sports Injury Campaign and recommending the following safety tips for consideration:
- Have a pre-season physical examination and follow your doctor’s recommendations.
- When playing, wear protective gear such as fitted cleats, pads, helmets, mouth guard or other necessary equipment.
- Warm-up and cool down properly with low-impact exercises like jogging that gradually increase or lower heart rate.
- Play multiple positions and/or sports during the off-season to minimize overuse injuries.
- Pay attention to weather conditions such as excessively hot and humid temperatures, to help avoid heat illness or wet, slippery conditions that can lead to injuries.
- Consistently incorporate strength training and stretching. A good stretch involves not going beyond the point of resistance and should be held for 10-12 seconds.
- Hydrate adequately to maintain health and minimize cramps.
- Waiting until you are thirsty is often too late to hydrate properly.
- Don’t play through the pain. Speak with an orthopaedic sports medicine specialist or athletic trainer if you have any concerns about injuries or tips on injury prevention.
- Avoid the pressure that is now exerted on many young athletes to overtrain. Listen to your body and decrease training time and intensity if pain or discomfort develops. This will reduce the risk of injury and help avoid “burn-out.”
Parents, coaches and athletes can get more tips on preventing injury at the Stop Sports Injury Campaign website.