29 Aug Diversification, Conditioning Keys to Avoiding Football and Softball Injuries
School’s back in session and with it comes the fall sports we’ve been anticipating since the season ended last year. We love sports and cheering on your students, but we also want them to be safe and injury free. Parents, trainers and coaches play a big role in preventing injuries and treating injuries when they do occur. By being aware, we can all work together to keep your athletes injury free.
Acute vs Overuse Injuries
Acute injuries happen suddenly usually due to colliding with another force on the field like another player or a flying softball. Coaches, other players and parents are often very aware of acute injuries because they watch them happen. Depending on the extent of the injury, it’s important for these types of injuries to be investigated before allowing the athlete to return to the field.
Overuse injuries happen gradually over time when a player doesn’t have time to heal between playing. Parents and coaches may not notice these injuries immediately. Overuse injuries may not immediately affect a player’s ability but without treatment it will get worse. Players can recognized overuse injuries because they often cause pain/discomfort when warming up, playing or resting after a game. Parents and coaches should talk to a player about an overuse injury if they notice the player having a change in behavior or activity. Report these injuries to a physician or physical therapist before allowing the player to resume activity.
Keys to Prevention
Prevention of injuries starts at the beginning of the season. Many overuse injuries happen early in the season when athletes try to begin where they left off the end of the last season. A sudden increase in duration and intensity of workouts increases the chances of injuries. Encourage young athletes to start gradually increasing workouts before the season begins.
Injuries may also be prevented by being well-hydrated, eating well before games, improving techniques, increasing conditioning of joints like ankles and knees and stretching well before practices and games.
As children begin to specialize in sports at an early age, we begin to see an increased number of overuse injuries. Encourage your children not to play one sport year-round. The constant use of the same muscles, tendons and ligaments leaves no room for healing during the off season. Instead, encourage athletes to play more than one sport where they can use different muscles at different times of the year. Be reasonable about the number of sports they play, however, as too many sports may be as damaging as too few.
An injury-free season makes the sport more fun for players, coaches and parents. If you do notice your player exhibiting persistent symptoms or symptoms that interfere with being able to play their sport, have them evaluated by a physician or physical therapist.