Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Preventing Sports Injuries in Children Starts Young

I just read a great article online about preventing ACL injuries in young athletes, especially girls. It's right here (preventing sports injuries in children) and it brings up some very important points about the alarming increase in sports-related injuries in student athletes. There's no doubt that youth sports are becoming more competitive, more aggressive, and having a greater incidence of injury on young athletes. The article points out the important perspective of prevention in young athletes to help avoid some of the most common injuries. It discusses the new trend in orthopedics toward considering the body as a whole rather than an isolated joint when it comes to injury.

As the old song goes, "the knee joint's connected to the ankle joint," and on and on. If an athlete suffers a tendency toward knee injuries,orthopedists are looking more closely at the overall gait and starting with the foot. If the foot is not stable, then the whole leg is at risk for injury. Taking simple measures to align the foot and ankle can mean prevention of serious injuries to the ACL and other major joints. One of those steps is an arch support or orthotic. And, from a prevention perspective, the earlier you start this process, the better.

The article mentions the fact that even an athlete as young as nine years can begin doing basic strength training exercises using their own body as resistance. Building stronger supporting muscles, and getting the right support in shoes can have a significant impact on injury prevention. The earlier you begin with getting a child's foot balanced and stable, the more likely they will be able to avoid painful injuries later on. It seems really straightforward, and I encourage all parents with child athletes to take a closer look at how the foot is being supported. It may prevent your child from spending part of their youth sports career on the sidelines.


Deb said...

As a Physical Therapist, there's nothing more disheartening than treating a young person with a major sports injury. Despite a young person's amazing ability to heal, their injury will often haunt them years later. So glad someone is thinking about prevention.

Dr T said...

This is a very interesting article, which is very relevant for today's developing athletes, particularly young girls. When running, all the force that is translated to the body starts in the foot, if the foot is balanced, there will be a smooth, efficient tranfer. If the foot is not balanced biomechanically, the energy will be absorbed in other parts of the body like the ankle or knee, resulting in overuse injuries. The key is to not treat the symptom, but look at the cause, and proper evalation of the foot and biomechanics is a great start.

It is also interesting that young girls were mentioned, they tend to have an unusually high number of knee injuries because they are more likely to play singular sports year round, such as soocer.

"Growing pains" are not a consequence of youth and should be taken seriously. A healthy foot will lead to happy, active children!