Has your teen already begun practice for football, volleyball, soccer, or another Fall sport?
As a parent, it’s your personal nightmare that your son or daughter experiences a devastating foot or ankle injury that sidelines them for the season, and causes pain into their adult years. Ankle injuries, after all, are the most common high school sports injury.
Injuries happen. You can’t prevent them all.
But you can minimize your teen’s risk of a severe foot or ankle injury. Here’s some tips for helping them avoid those:
1. Make Sure Your Child Gets a Preseason Physical
In most cases, this will be required for your teen to participate. If they are in a league where a physical isn’t required for whatever reason, make sure they get one.
A physical can reveal any personal vulnerabilities they may have to injuries. And the doctor can give you suggestions on additional gear your teen could wear to greatly reduce their chance of serious injury.
2. Good Nutrition
This is one your child’s sports team can’t monitor. For example, children and teens today frequently have vitamin D deficiency because they spend so much more time inside with technology rather than playing outside.
Your primary source of vitamin D comes from the sun shining on your skin. You can make your kids play outside more frequently. They only need about 10 minutes per day in shorts and a tank top without any sunscreen on to get what they need. You can also have them take a nutritional supplement.
Children deficient in vitamin D are 3.7 times more likely to experience a fracture that requires operative repair, according to a New York times article.
When they get a physical, talk to their doctor about healthy nutrition for sports.
Yes, your teens and children need rest. Injuries commonly result from overuse. This could happen if your child plays the same sport in two different leagues, for example. They may excel at one sport and want to play only that sport all year long.
That’s okay, but you should take certain measures to help your child prevent injury. Basically, they should only practice their sport 1 hour per year of age per week. So if they’re 16, they should practice that sport 16 hours per week – and that’s it. If they hit that limit with the team, then they should rest at home.
Ideally, they participate in different sports throughout the year. If they don’t, their practice time should be limited. And if they experience pain of any kind, especially persistent pain, get them to the doctor because the pain only gets worse or causes more serious injury when ignored. Children typically don’t want to discuss their pain because they want to play – so watch them closely to see if they favor any part of their body.
Yes. You’ve heard the standard advice about ankle braces. Those are important too. But, so are these tips – and especially so in Texas, where we take our sports seriously.
Here’s to a healthy and fun season for you and your child!