If you have a child who plays sports, you want to ensure your child stays safe. While there has been a lot of news about the issues children can suffer from concussions, there has been little information about the impact of ankle and foot injuries on young athletes. Because April is Youth Sports Safety Month, and Foot Health Awareness Month Dr. Hubert Lee at CarePlus Foot & Ankle Specialists in Bellevue, WA, is sharing information regarding the top three most common injuries in youth athletes.
1-Stress Fractures: When muscles can no longer handle the added stress, it gets absorbed by their bones. Stress fractures can occur in the ankles, feet, and lower legs.
Young athletes at risk are those who participate in sports that involve jumping, running, and repetitive movements such as basketball, track and field, and gymnastics. Participating in sports activities too quickly, without rest to sufficiently condition the body, can also elevate the chance of experiencing a stress fracture.
To prevent stress fractures in young athletes, consider the following:
- Proper and slow conditioning
- Balanced, nutritious meals rich in Vitamin D and calcium
- Drink plenty of water
- Suitable warm-up and cool-down
- Stop when in pain and see your podiatrist
- Alternate types of physical activities
- Go for a physical before the start of the season
- Purchase new athletic shoes every 500 miles.
2-Heel Pain: While children can also develop plantar fasciitis, a disorder called Sever's disease is much more common among young athletes. This condition affects children between the ages of 8-14 who have an open growth plate on their heel bone. Because it is open it's vulnerable to inflammation and bruising during activities like soccer.
To prevent Sever's disease in your young athletes, begin by buying shoes designed for their specific sport, stretching the Achilles tendon to decrease stress on the heel if they are disposed to this disorder, and don’t let them participate beyond their abilities.
3- Ankle Sprains: Common in youth basketball, soccer, and other sports. Studies have shown that ankle injuries account for 10 - 30% of all sports-related injuries in young athletes. It's nearly impossible to determine if your child has sprained an ankle or broken a bone without X-rays.
Minor injuries are typically treated by resting, protecting the injury site, and taking time away from the activity. More serious ankle sprains will need physical therapy and immobilization. In some cases, surgery will be required.
If your child experiences an ankle or foot injury playing sports, contact Dr. Hubert Lee at CarePlus Foot & Ankle Specialists in Bellevue, WA. You can schedule an appointment online or by calling us at 425-455-0936.