Today’s youth sports landscape is competitive, and many young athletes shift from playing winter sports to spring activities without thinking about the increased risk of suffering sports injuries. Because April is Youth Sports Safety Month, today Dr. Eric Ricefield, Dr. Mark Yagodich, and Dr. Aliza V. Eisen of greater Philadelphia’s, Your Next Step Foot and Ankle Care Center, are sharing ways to prevent ankle and foot injuries that can occur during spring activities.
When taking part in spring sports vs. winter activities, athletes typically need to move from one type of surface to another. Playing on different surfaces with various levels of impact can add stress to an athlete’s foot or ankle. And going from one sport to another without allowing time for the bones and muscles to rest can cause overuse injuries, especially in younger participants whose bones are still developing.
When switching from spring sports to winter sports, consider these six tips to help protect your young athletes from serious foot or ankle injuries.
- Take it slow. Ask that your child’s coach gradually increase their playing time during practice. It’s important that your child’s ankles and feet become accustomed to the level of activity required for the sport they’re participating in. Sufficient conditioning can help a player avoid injury and can improve his/her performance.
- Get a health and wellness checkup before the season starts. Getting a medical evaluation before the season starts can help detect potential health concerns that can lead to injury.
- Review their technique. Because as a parent you are your child’s biggest cheerleader, you may be able to observe a difference in your child’s technique and form, which is often a sign that something may be wrong. Have your child’s coach notify you if they are putting more weight on one side of the body or if they develop a limp.
- Wear the right shoes. Each different sport typically requires different footwear. Wearing the appropriate, broken-in, well-fitting athletic shoes designed for a specific sport can diminish toe and heel discomfort and improve your child’s performance.
- Use RICE for an injury. An injured ankle or foot can usually heal using the RICE method of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If your child has ankle or foot pain, they should take a break from the activity and allow time to recover. If the pain continues, there may be something more serious wrong.
- If your child has pain, make sure they tell someone. Encourage communication with you or their coach regarding any discomfort or pain they feel as soon as it begins. Overuse injuries such as shin splints and Achilles tendonitis can start out mild and develop over time. The sooner you identify an injury, the sooner you can treat it.
If your child sustains an injury during their spring sports activities, don’t hesitate to contact the offices of greater Philadelphia’s Your Next Step Foot and Ankle Care Center. Click here to locate the office nearest you and schedule an appointment today!