How To Stay Safe While Playing Spring Sports

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Whether you’re into soccer, skateboarding, baseball, softball, lacrosse, tennis, track and field or a host of other warm weather sports, spring is a great time of year to be outdoors after a long, cold winter. Spring sports are also a terrific way to stay fit and enjoy being active with friends and family. Keep in mind, however, that many spring sports contain inherent risks, and special precautions should be taken to prevent injuries.

Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP

Here at Westchester Health Pediatrics, we see a lot of spring sports-related injuries, more than we’d like to. To try and keep our patients and their families injury-free, we’ve put together these guidelines to help everyone have fun and stay safe this spring.

The most common kids’ spring sports injuries

Because of the wide array of children’s sports played in the spring (usually outdoors), injuries can vary. Here are the most we see most often:

1. Shoulder and elbow injuries from throwing and racquet sports
Although throwing injuries in the shoulder and elbow most commonly occur in baseball pitchers, they can also be seen in an athlete who participates in sports that require repetitive overhand motions, such as volleyball, tennis and some track and field events.

2. Knee injuries, stress fractures, ankle injuries and shin splints from sports that involve a lot of running
These injuries typically occur in track, soccer and lacrosse and are caused by overuse, particularly working bones and tendons too hard before your body gets used to a new activity. These types of injuries commonly occur after an athlete suddenly changes their workout, such as running much longer distances or increasing the number of days they run, too quickly.

3. Concussions
Concussions are a serious health problem and can occur in any sport. They typically are the result of forceful contact to the head or body, most commonly when the head hits the ground, pavement, goalpost or another player’s head. Always report symptoms of a concussion to a coach or athletic trainer. For concussions to heal properly, they require early identification, careful evaluation and a special management protocol before a child or teen can return to school and play. If your child has experienced a concussion, he/she should not take part in sports until they have been examined and cleared by a physician.

Symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy
  • Dizziness
  • Memory problems

4. ACL injuries
A torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most serious types of knee injuries. Kids who get ACL injuries tend to play contact sports (football and basketball) or “cutting” sports like soccer and baseball that feature swift, abrupt movements such as pivoting, stopping, or turning. If the quadriceps muscles aren’t strong enough, certain movements can suddenly put too much pressure on the knee joint, causing the ACL, a ligament that helps give the knee its stability, to tear.

Sports injuries facts

  • Football causes the most emergency room visits among U.S. athletes 19 and under, followed by basketball, soccer and baseball.
  • The body parts most injured in sports are the ankle, head, finger, knee and face.
  • Strains and sprains are the most commonly diagnosed in kids—451,480 annually. Next are broken bones, bruises, scrapes and concussions.

7 best ways to prevent injury while participating in spring sports

At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we firmly believe that prevention is the best way to avoid sports injuries. Along those lines, here are our recommendations for keeping your child out of the doctor’s office or emergency room this spring:

  1. Pre-season conditioning programs can help reduce injury rates, particularly in young athletes.
  2. Make sure your child’s coaching staff and trainers are knowledgeable and experienced. Also, find out about their parent notification protocol in the event your child gets injured while in their care.
  3. Make sure the proper gear is used correctly.
  4. Make sure your child learns safety guidelines specific to the sport he/she is playing, as well as how to stay hydrated before, during and after practices and games.
  5. Avoid your child playing one sport all year.
  6. Limit sport-specific repetitive motions like pitching, or serving in tennis.
  7. Make sure your child’s practice includes warm-up, cool down and water breaks.

If your child has sustained a spring sports-related injury, come see us

If you or someone in your family has been injured while participating in spring sports, or if you’d like more information on how to prevent or treat any kind of sports injury, please come in and see us at Westchester Health Pediatrics. We’ll meet with you, answer all your questions, and together, determine the best ways for you to stay safe.

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By Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with Westchester Health Pediatrics, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners

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About the Author: ML Ball