Having a child excited to get into a school sports season can be quite exciting for a parent as well. And it can be similarly heartbreaking to child and parent alike if a foot or ankle sports injury happens to trip up those ambitions.
If such a misfortune does occur, you can count on the children’s foot care experts here at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona. We can not only help your child get back into the game as quickly and as safely as possible, but also take steps to help prevent future injuries from happening or being as severe.
But we don’t have to work alone. You as a parent can also help your child recover faster from and reduce their risk of sports injuries. The first step is knowing what to look for.
Most Sports Injuries Are Not from Big Hits
It can be easy to assume sports injuries are impossible to avoid if you are only imagining them as coming from collisions or hard impacts during play.
While it’s true that hits causing sprains or fractures are pretty difficult to prevent, there are many more foot and ankle injuries that do not happen this way. Instead, they are the result of strain, stress, and overuse.
When we push ourselves more intensely than our bodies are currently able to endure, it can increase our risk of painful injuries such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, and stress fractures.
Such sports injuries can occur either by a sudden increase in intensity or through long periods of repetitive motions without enough opportunity to rest and recover – both situations which can occur when heading into training. We see an uptick in sports injuries at the start of sports seasons for this reason – both in kids and adults alike.
Additionally, certain circumstances surrounding the growth and structure of the feet can increase the risk of pain as well. Many active children around the ages of 8-14 experience heel pain due to Sever’s disease, a condition in which a sensitive, growing heel bone is more vulnerable to strain and injury.
What does all of this mean to you as a parent? Don’t just be watchful for signs of injury when your child takes a hard hit. Watch for signs of pain, limping, and other problems during or between games and practices as well.
What to Do When You Suspect a Sports Injury
Don’t worry. You’re not expected to be a sports injury expert. Some common sense and consideration are more than suitable enough to help your child where it counts.
If your child experiences an injury or pain, the first step is to put a temporary halt to their activity. There is no “walking it off” or “playing through the pain” here. There is sometimes the occasional bruise or bump that will be fine after a few minutes, yes, but going back out on a more sustained injury will greatly increase the risk of further damage, which can lead to worse symptoms and longer-lasting recovery. Time should always be taken to evaluate an injury.
Good first aid for most types of sports injury is following the RICE protocol. This stands for:
- REST. Keep weight off the affected foot or leg as best as possible. No more intense activity for now.
- ICE. Apply ice to the area for 15-20 minutes at a time to help relieve pain and swelling. Make sure that the source of cold is not directly touching the skin. Wrap it in a thin towel or covering to avoid damage to the skin.
- COMPRESS. Wrap the affected area in a compression bandage if you are confident in your ability to do so, making sure not to constrict blood flow to the area. You can skip this step if you are not confident, though – don’t worry about it.
- ELEVATE. Keep the affected foot or ankle above heart level whenever sitting or lying down. This could mean putting the leg up on a coffee table or a pile of pillows while in bed.
RICE can be an effective means of reducing pain and swelling within the first 48 hours of an injury but Is typically not recommended any longer after that. If your child’s injury is not showing marked improvement by that time or you have any concerns about your child’s sports injury at any time, please don’t hesitate to contact us about it. We will always be happy to help you determine the best steps forward for your child’s treatment, getting them back into action as quickly and as safely as possible.
Reducing Your Child’s Sports Injury Risk
Of course, even better than a fast and effective recovery from a sports injury is not having one to worry about in the first place! While you can never reduce your child’s injury risk to completely zero, there are still plenty of actions you can take to keep their chances low:
- Make sure your child has the right footwear for their sport, it fits well, and that they use it.
- Encourage a proper stretching and warm-up routine before activities.
- Talk with a coach or trainer to verify their stances on sports injuries and training. Do they set aside time for breaks? Make sure proper technique is followed? Pull kids if they are injured?
Additionally, we can examine your child and determine whether they have any additional risks that could best be addressed now. Abnormalities in foot structure, for example, can be addressed via changes in footwear or the use of orthotics, helping to relieve excess stress from building in certain areas of the foot.
Schedule an appointment at our Chandler office by giving us a call or by filling out our online contact form.