Did you have all the same choices to play various sports when you were a kid?
Children these days have incredible opportunity to play whatever sport they want. And that’s a good thing.
But with every good thing comes at least some risk.
And especially so with intense sports that require lots of running and most are considered contact sports, like soccer.
Around one-third of youth sports injuries require serious medical attention. It’s impossible to eliminate all risk of foot and ankle injuries.
However, you certainly can help your child minimize their risk. Here’s how:
1. Emphasize Rest and Balance
If you happen to have a child who excels at their sport, do encourage them to work hard. But, make it okay for them to rest too.
It can be easy to get caught up in the frenzy of success if your child dominates their sport.
But, push them too hard, or let them push themselves too hard, and they can end up sidelined with overuse injuries, stress fractures, and shin splints.
Wearing preventative gear such as a low profile ankle brace and custom molded inserts designed for their particular sport can help. Also proper stretching and warm up drills are another consideration and very manageable. A cool down period is also recommended along with hydration, nutrition, and proper diet.
2. Scout the Field For Injury-Causing Issues
Gophers are your child’s worst enemy. The soft soil they create can cause an awkward step or two…and a painful foot or ankle injury.
The same for divots and loose soil.
So, prior to the game, take a look around the field and fix any issues you notice with loose soil.
3. Scout Your Coach
It’s the coaches’ job to get to know the players and their strengths and weaknesses so they know where to play them.
But, who scouts the coach?
Make sure they follow a systematic training program that includes a focus on injury prevention.
Stress fractures and injuries are a known problem for younger athletes, so coaches should be aware of them and have a plan to minimize the chance they happen.
4. Watch Your Child for Signs of an Injury
What child wants to admit they have an injury and go over to the sideline?
Children always want to minimize their injury and its effects. So, they’ll say nothing and try to tough it out (usually).
So, watch your child for signs of them favoring one of their feet. Make them rest at home. See an ankle and foot specialist for recommendations tailored to their sport(s). You don’t need to have lower extremity pain or an injury to see a doctor. Education and recommendations from a licensed physician is valuable and an underutilized resource.
And remember the acronym RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) to help them get back to action as fast as possible.
Youth sports should be a fun time for you and your child. By incorporating these tips as their season progresses, you minimize their chances of a foot or ankle injury.
And you keep their summer sports season fun and healthy.