CareNow® - October 23, 2023

A new school year means the start of various sports seasons. From football to soccer, kids and teenagers across the country eagerly join teams and hit the fields. It’s no secret that sports offer numerous physical and social benefits, but they also come with the risk of injuries. 

The youth sports injury statistics are startling. More than 3.5 million children under the age of 14 get hurt every year participating in sports. And more than 775,000 children within this same age range end up in the hospital for sports-related injuries. 

From sprains to strains to concussions, many of the common kids sports injuries can be prevented. We’re delving into common fall sports injuries and exploring strategies to prevent them so you can keep your kids safe this sports season.

What sports do kids play in the fall?

Fall is a great time of year for kids' sports. Gone are the dog days of summer when outdoor sports can feel like more of a punishment than something to be enjoyed by both kiddos and parents. However, the crisp autumn days make fall sports fun for everyone.

Here are some of the best fall sports options for children:

Soccer: Soccer is a quintessential fall sport that encourages kids to stay active while fostering teamwork. Suitable for children as young as 3 up through high school, soccer is generally considered safe. Ensure your child wears proper cleats and shin guards for protection.

Lacrosse: Lacrosse is a fun and increasingly popular sport. Kids enjoy learning to use lacrosse sticks to pass and catch the ball. This sport is suitable for ages 6 through high school, but it carries a slightly higher risk of injuries due to stick play. Boys need helmets, gloves, elbow and knee pads, and cleats, while girls require goggles and cleats.

Baseball: While typically associated with spring, many little leagues offer fall baseball programs. These are more laid-back and provide an excellent introduction to the sport for kids aged 4 to 5 (tee ball) and 6 through adulthood (baseball). Safety is essential, so ensure your child follows safety rules and wears the right protective gear, including helmets and baseball cleats.

Tennis: Tennis is a versatile sport suitable for kids from around 5 or 6 through high school. It not only offers physical exercise but also mental challenges. It caWhen playing doubles, it emphasizes teamwork and cooperation. The primary concern in tennis is overuse injuries, so make sure your child stretches after practice and takes rest days.

These fall sports can be fantastic opportunities for kids to have fun, stay active, and develop important life skills. It's essential to consider your child's interests and safety when choosing the right sport for them.

What is the most common sports injury?

In the world of teen sports, injuries are almost inevitable. However, some teenage sports injuries are more prevalent than others. Among the most common pediatric sports injuries are:

1. Sprains and Strains

Sprains: These occur when ligaments, the tough bands of tissue that connect bones to each other, are stretched or torn. Ankle sprains are particularly common in sports like soccer and basketball.

Strains: Strains happen when muscles or tendons are stretched beyond their limits or torn. Hamstring strains often afflict runners and football players.

2. Fractures

Broken bones can result from high-impact sports like football, hockey, and skateboarding. Common fracture sites include the wrist, forearm, and collarbone.

3. Concussions

Head injuries, such as concussions, are a significant concern in contact sports like football. That’s one of the reasons football injuries like concussions have been in the headlines in recent years. Proper headgear and strict adherence to safety rules can help reduce the risk.

4. Dislocations

Joint dislocations, where the bones move out of their normal positions, can occur in sports like wrestling and gymnastics.

How to prevent injury in sports?

Preventing sports injuries, especially during the fall season, is crucial to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for young athletes. Here are some effective injury prevention strategies:

1. Warm-Up and Stretching

Before engaging in any physical activity, it's essential to warm up the muscles with light aerobic exercise and then perform dynamic stretching. This prepares the body for more intense movements and reduces the risk of strains.

2. Proper Technique

Coaches and trainers should emphasize the importance of proper technique. Teaching young athletes how to tackle, jump, land, and pivot correctly can prevent injuries.

3. Protective Gear

Appropriate protective gear, such as helmets, pads, and mouthguards, should be worn according to the sport's requirements. Ensure that the gear fits properly and is in good condition.

4. Rest and Recovery

Allowing time for rest and recovery between practices and games is essential. Overuse injuries are common when young athletes don't have adequate downtime.

5. Hydration and Nutrition

Proper hydration and nutrition are vital for maintaining peak physical condition. Encourage athletes to drink water before, during, and after activities and consume balanced meals.

How many kids play sports?

Engaging in sports offers numerous benefits for children and teenagers, including improved fitness, teamwork, and discipline. So, just how many kids participate in sports in the United States? According to statistics from various sources:

  • Approximately 45 million children and adolescents participate in organized sports each year in the US.
  • Football, soccer, and basketball are among the most popular sports for kids and teenagers.
  • The participation rate varies by age, with younger children often engaging in a wider variety of sports, and older teenagers specializing in one or two sports.
  • While sports participation offers numerous benefits, it's essential to ensure that safety measures are in place to reduce the risk of injuries.

Fall sports provide an excellent opportunity for kids and teenagers to stay active and develop valuable life skills. But it's crucial to be aware of common sports injuries and take steps to prevent them. By prioritizing safety and proper training, young athletes can enjoy the fall sports season to the fullest.

How to prevent common fall sports injuries

To prevent injuries in children participating in sports, it's crucial to emphasize safety measures. First and foremost, ensure that kids wear appropriate protective gear, such as helmets, pads, and mouthguards, depending on the sport. 

Proper warm-up exercises and stretching routines are essential to prepare their muscles and reduce the risk of strains or sprains. Coaches and parents should promote good sportsmanship, emphasizing fair play over aggressive competition. 

Additionally, teaching children proper techniques and emphasizing the importance of listening to their bodies can help prevent overuse injuries. Encouraging adequate hydration and rest is equally vital in maintaining their overall health and reducing injury risk. 

Lastly, regular check-ups and sports physicals with a healthcare provider can identify and address any underlying health issues that might affect a child's ability to participate safely in sports. 

If your child gets injured during a practice or game this season, or you’re in need of an annual sports physical, consider visiting your local CareNow®

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