Youth sports have, unfortunately, become a breeding ground for ultra-competitiveness, which often leads to injury that can develop into lifelong complications. To help you (and your child’s coaches) understand how to prevent injuries, we spoke to Dr. John Viscovich, podiatrist at Westchester Health Podiatry, and Dr. Eric Small, medical director of orthopedics and sports medicine of Westchester Health Associates in Mount Kisco. Here, they discuss prevention of the most common injuries sustained in youth sports.
Most common injury: Concussion
Sports in which it’s most likely to occur: Soccer, football
Prevention: “Strengthening the neck and the shoulder muscles,” says Dr. Small.
Most common injury: Shoulder or elbow pain
Sport in which it’s most likely to occur: Baseball
Prevention: “Six weeks prior to the season, [athletes should] throw …to strengthen their rotator cuff muscles and their core muscles,” says Dr. Small.
Most common injury: Lower-back stress fracture
Sport in which it’s most likely to occur: Cheerleading
Prevention: “Core strengthening and hamstring flexibility exercises,” says Dr. Small.
Most common injury: ACL injury
Sport in which it’s most likely to occur: Soccer, football
Prevention: “There’s what’s called a knee injury prevention program, which is doing jump training and landing mechanics two times per week. [Coaches] can incorporate that into practices,” says Dr. Small.
Most commoninjury: Achilles tendonitis
Sport in which it’s most likely to occur: Basketball, football
Prevention: “Achilles tendons stretches are always the big key: It’s keeping your foot on the ground and going forward on your foot with your knee bent. For more than 50 percent of kids who come in, I ask them if their coaches stretch them out before a game, and they say ‘no.’ I’ll do a physical examination on these kids, and their Achilles tendons and hamstrings are so tight; there’s no flexibility in these kids whatsoever,” says Dr. Viscovich.
Most common injury: Shin splints and heel pain
Sport in which it’s most likely to occur: Lacrosse
Prevention: “We see a lot of shin pain and heel pain, and that can be prevented by not running or sprinting seven days a week. [Athletes should be] only running or sprinting three to four days a week,” says Dr. Small.
Most common injury: Ankle sprains
Sports from which these injuries commonly occur: Basketball, football, lacrosse, baseball
Prevention: Balance and jump training, says Dr. Small