The most dangerous student sport in the autumn is…(would you believe) cheerleading, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research. While that may surprise you, the fact that football and soccer are also near the top of the list is not surprising. If you or your child is engaged in fall sports, here are some tips to help you navigate the rough waters of autumn competition. Remember, that the rate of injury for youth athletes is about the same as professional athletes.
- Make sure the sport is right for your child; don’t push him or her into a sport they’re not suited for.
- Have your child play different sports during the year or different positions in the same sport. This will help avoid so-called “overuse” injuries, when the same muscles and joints are used too much.
- If possible, make sure they have new shoes for the fall season.
- Have ankle injuries treated quickly and properly. What may seem like a sprain may be more serious, involving cartilage or serious ligament damage, for instance.
- Talk to teen athletes about warm-up and cool-down exercises to prepare their bodies for a more strenuous workout.
- If there is an injury, seek attention immediately. Don’t “play through the pain.”
- Watch for signs of injury that your young athlete may be hesitant to report: pain with activity or waking up at night due to the pain, or a change in the way they play (their form & technique).
- If your child suffers a blow to the head and feels dizzy, in a fog or has a headache, immediately tell the coach as this could be a possible concussion, which is considered a brain injury.
- If the injury involves a joint, the youth shouldn’t return to play until the pain is gone, there is no swelling and they have full range of motion and normal strength.
- Finally, here’s a good rule of thumb: If there is a shooting, pinching or sharp pain that happens more than once or twice – stop and seek attention.
Just in case you think it’s only youth that can find injury in fall sports, one research study listed looked at the danger of hunters falling from tree stands. Of all the falls studied, half involved spinal fractures and 40% involved arm and leg fractures.
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Sources include: McLeod Health, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, University of Wisconsin Sports Medicine, National Institutes of Health, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Centers of Disease Control & Prevention, National Center for Catastrophic Injury Research