Does your high school teenager play sports? As a parent, it’s important that you make sure your child isn’t overdoing it at practice and during competition. Otherwise, your son or daughter can end up suffering from sports-related overuse injuries.
During the 2013 to 2014 school year, almost 7.8 million U.S. students participated in high school sports. Many of these kids participate in multiple sports throughout the school year and even during the summer months. Some teenage athletes spend over 18 hours a week participating in training, practices and competitive events. With the trend toward intensive training and frequent competition, many teenage athletes suffer from overuse injuries. In fact, 45% to 54% of all sports-related injuries are due to overuse. A high percentage (up to 62%) of these overuse injuries occur to the lower extremities with the lower leg sustaining the most injury, followed by the knee and foot.
Common Overuse Injuries in the Lower Extremities
The most common overuse injuries in the feet and legs include:
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome – Pain in the front of the knee that is exacerbated by jumping, climbing stairs and sitting for long periods.
- Stress fractures – A tiny crack in a bone due to the bone’s inability to repair itself. Stress fractures can occur in any part of the leg, ankle, and foot.
- Apophysitis – Irritation, inflammation, and micro-trauma to the apophysis, a growth plate onto which the muscle attaches. In adolescents, these attachment sites between the tendon and bone are weaker than the tendon.
Prevention Is the Best Treatment for Overuse Injuries
The majority of overuse injuries can be prevented. According to the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, some ways high school athletes can prevent overuse injuries include:
- Don’t have your athlete specialize in a single sport, which can contribute to an increased risk of overuse injuries.
- Educate the athlete on the signs and symptoms of overuse injuries.
- Instruct the athlete to notify coaches and parents when symptoms occur.
- Have your athlete participate in preseason and in-season preventive training programs that focus on neuromuscular control, balance, coordination, flexibility, and strengthening of the lower extremities.
- Limit their weekly and yearly participation, especially when it pertains to sport-specific repetitive movements, such as pitching or throwing a ball.
- Have the athlete take scheduled rest periods.
- Monitor and reduce training workloads during adolescent growth spurts, when the risk of injury is higher.
- Participate in preseason strength and conditioning programs.
- Ensure that all sports equipment fits properly – including your child’s shoes.
However, all modifications to training and competition need to be based on the athlete’s age, growth rate and injury history.
While you may not be able to prevent all sports-related injuries that your teenage athlete may suffer, by following these tips, you CAN help reduce the risk of overuse injuries.
Reduce Overuse Injuries with ezWalker® Custom Fit Orthotics
While custom orthotics can’t prevent your teenage athlete from experiencing a sports-related injury, they can provide your child with pain relief if he or she suffers from pain due to an overuse injury. Custom orthotics also can help improve biomechanical deficits in your child’s gait, which will improve their balance, stability, and power while playing sports.
If your teenage athlete is experiencing foot pain, have their feet examined by a certified professional. If custom orthotics, like ezWalker® Custom Fit Orthotics, are recommended, know that our foot orthotics will help your child’s feet function more efficiently. Since our custom orthotics are ultra-thin and ¾ length, they work well in all types of shoes your child may wear. And they come with a 90-day, money-back guarantee.
Because … when your feet feel good, you feel good.®
Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.