Four Tips for Injury Prevention
Of more than 35 million young athletes participating in sports today, as many as 10% will experience injuries. The good news is there are easy, sensible steps parents, coaches and student athletes can take to keep doing the activities they enjoy while avoiding injuries.
“The most common injuries seen in a community orthopedic office are usually ankle sprains, clavicle fractures, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, knee sprains and contusions,” said Dr. Davis Frederick III, Orthopedic Surgeon for UNC Orthopedics at Goldsboro. “We also see various fractures from sports, especially during football season.”
Athletes of all ages can be at risk of these kinds of injuries if proper training is not in place, said Meredith Kelly, Physical Therapist with Orthopedic Physical Therapy at Wayne UNC Health Care. “But, younger athletes do have to be cautious about overtraining, due to exponential growth that occurs during childhood and adolescence, which can impact joints and place more stress on tendons, ligaments and muscles.”
Dr. Frederick and Kelly offer the following advice for enjoying sports injury-free:
Get your pre-participation exam/sports physical.
These exams are very important for determining whether athletes have pre-existing conditions that may make their joints more lax or congenital conditions that could predispose them to physical injury, said Dr. Frederick.
“Your doctor will assess you to make sure you have proper vitals, range of motion and strength to safely participate in your sport,” said Kelly. “Any major concerns or health issues can also be monitored to make sure you’re safe to participate in sport.”
Stretch and condition your body.
“It’s important that athletes train at the appropriate level at the right time, meaning working up to high-intensity workouts and training and properly progressing training,” said Kelly. “It’s also important to perform a proper warm-up prior to training, which should include dynamic exercises and a proper cool-down following training allowing heart rate to return to baseline.”
Take care of your body.
“Nutrition plays a big role in athletics,” said Dr. Frederick. “The role of carbohydrates and protein in athletics is an ongoing science.”
Kelly says it’s important for coaches to give proper water and rest breaks throughout practices and training and make sure practices are at the intensity of games to make sure the athletes’ bodies are acclimated to the intensity that will take place during games.
“Parents can help assist athletes by making sure they get adequate rest and sleep, as the body is able to heal better with proper sleeping patterns,” said Kelly.
Wear properly fitting protective equipment.
Kelly said it’s important for protective equipment to fit properly. “Equipment that is too small (impairing proper movement) or too big (allowing excessive movement), at either end of the spectrum, can place an extremity at a disadvantage, causing athletes to be more prone to injury,” she said.
If you do experience an injury, UNC Orthopedics at Goldsboro and Orthopedic Physical Therapy(OPT) is available throughout the athletic season. Our surgeons and therapists work closely with one another, with patients and with local schools to get athletes back to participation as quickly as possible.
OPT has physical therapists with sports backgrounds, who can assist in understanding proper progression and knowing where an athlete needs to be in order to return to sport.
“Sport background and knowledge aids in the Physical Therapist being able to be creative and targeting areas that need to be addressed for the athlete to not just return to sport, but return to sport a better player,” said Kelly. “Some of our personnel background includes triathlons, running, personal training, weight lifting, football, baseball at the collegiate and Minor League levels and soccer, basketball and tennis at the collegiate level.”
Therapists also offer numerous ways for strengthening, including a squat rack, torque tank, Med X equipment and Blood Flow Restriction Therapy (BFRT). Available exclusively at Wayne UNC, BFRT allows strengthening to occur in the muscles targeted without athletes having to use heavy loads.
For more information on Orthopedic care and Sports Medicine at Wayne UNC, call 919-587-3112