Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a star school athlete, fall sports can be tons of fun—or an invitation to orthopedic injuries. Football, according to the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of America, is the leading cause of catastrophic sports injuries among high school and college athletes. Soccer, volleyball and cheerleading cause their share of injuries, as well.
Here are a few more sobering statistics:
- About 225 of every 10,000 soccer players sought emergency medical attention in 2014.*
- Cheerleading injuries nearly doubled between 1990 and 2002, probably due to the increased emphasis on tumbling and jumping.* By 2013, more than 99,000 students per year were seeking emergency treatment for cheerleading injuries.**
- Nearly 94,000 children between ages 5 and 18 were treated in emergency rooms for volleyball injuries in 2013.**
The good news is that, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, research indicates that injury rates could be reduced by 25% if athletes took appropriate preventative action. So if you like to play, play it safe by following our top 5 ways to prevent fall sports injuries.
- Warm up first, cool down after. Walk, jog a little, or use an exercise bike to warm up before you play. Then do some stretches to get your body limbered up for the work it’s about to perform. Warming up is especially important if you have a history of injury, as previous muscle or joint injuries can develop into chronic problems if you’re not careful.
- Wear protective equipment. Helmets, mouth guards, protective eyewear, safety pads … whatever your sport calls for, wear it. Worry less about how you look than how you’ll feel if you get hurt. Check to make sure your equipment—or your child’s—fits well. Properly fitting gear can not only protect against injury but against the cost of treating those injuries down the road.
- Don’t play when you’re tired, injured, or in pain. You’re more prone to injury if you’re tired, so be sure you’re rested fully before participating in sports. Many athletes are tempted to get right back into the game following an injury. Don’t do it. Injuries need time to heal, and playing too soon can lead to further injury. The same is true if you’re in pain. Don’t tough it out! Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong, so listen to it.
- Stay hydrated. This means getting the proper amount of water before, during and after sports activities. Lack of water can cause muscle cramps, dizziness, and other problems—and will prevent you from performing at your best level. For most people, drinking water is sufficient for staying hydrated. You can add sports drinks if you’ll be exercising at a high-intensity level for more than an hour.
- Don’t overdo it. This goes for play AND for training. Many athletes think the more they train, the better they’ll play, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, athletes with a high number of consecutive training days are more likely to suffer injuries.*** And overuse injuries are the most common type of sports-related injuries, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
Practicing these tips can significantly decrease your chance of incurring a sports-related injury. If you do experience an injury, our Sports Medicine and orthopedic specialists can help. Call us at 941-792-1404 to learn more today, or request an appointment online.
* Nationwide Children’s Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, OH
** Consumer Product Safety Commission