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March 2017: Sport Injuries in Children

By Adam Tysoe -- April 5th, 2017

Participation in any sport, whether it’s recreational bike riding or junior football, can teach children to stretch their limits and learn sportsmanship and discipline. But any sport also carries the potential for injury. By knowing the causes of sports injuries and how to prevent them, you can help make athletics a positive experience for your child.

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Children can be particularly susceptible to sports injuries for a variety of reasons. Children, particularly those younger than 8 years old, are less coordinated and have slower reaction times than adults because they are still growing and developing. When children of varying sizes play sports together, there may be an increased risk of injury. As children grow bigger and stronger, the potential for injury increases, largely because of the amount of force involved.

Common Childhood Sports Injuries

Sprains A sprain is an injury to a ligament – a stretching or a tearing. One or more ligaments can be injured during a sprain. Ankle sprains are the most common injury.

Strain A strain is an injury to either a muscle or a tendon. A muscle is a tissue composed of bundles of specialized cells that, when stimulated by nerve impulses contract and produce movement.

Growth Plate Injuries The growth plate is the area of developing tissues at the end of the long bones in growing children and adolescents. When growth is complete, sometime during adolescence, the growth plate is replaced by solid bone.

Overuse Injuries/ Repetitive Motion Injuries It’s important to get overuse injuries diagnosed and treated to prevent them from developing into larger chronic problems. When recovery is complete, your child’s technique or training schedule may need to be adjusted to prevent the
injury from flaring up again.

Heat Injuries Children perspire less than adults and require a higher core body temperature to trigger sweating. Heat-related illnesses include dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These injuries can be prevented.

Physiotherapists have good training tips and are able to give athletes some ideas for avoiding injuries; for instance recommending
specific exercises, stretching or strengthening activities:

  • Stretching can prevent injuries.
  • Stretching helps children’s bodies recoverafter exercise.
  • Stretching helps children’s bodies become and remain flexible as they grow into adulthood.
  • Flexible bodies are more agile and perform better.
  • Stretching reduces muscle tension and feels good!

A physiotherapist also can identify risk factors that are linked to specific sports. Advice like this will enable children to be better and stronger athletes.

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