Youth sports can have lifelong benefits for kids. Through athletics, kids can learn how to stay active, contribute to a team and work toward a goal. This skill set can carry on through future endeavors, including educational, personal and professional goals. Alongside the many benefits that youth sports can provide, there are also potential risks, including injury to the foot or ankle. At Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates (FASA), skilled providers work with patients of all ages, including children, to help prevent and treat sports-related injuries. With offices located throughout the South Sound region, FASA has helped many young athletes to keep both feet in the game.
Whether on the basketball court, the soccer pitch or on the dance floor, there are steps that young athletes can take so that they can keep doing what they love instead of recovering from an injury on the sidelines.
Dr. Terrence Hess, CEO of Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates, recommends early intervention and the adoption of healthy habits to help prevent sports-related injuries. Hess says that many sports injuries take place early in the sports season, as athletes reacclimate to their chosen game. When at practice, young athletes should especially pay attention to any pain stemming from the foot or ankle. If pain does appear, making an appointment with a medical professional can help uncover the root cause.
Certain preventative measures, including a consistent stretching routine, can also help reduce the risk of serious injury. “Stretching to prevent injuries is good preventative work,” says Hess. “We see athletes skip stretching or put not a high enough of an importance to it. But it should be done both before and after activity.”
For young athletes, growth plate injuries are also a common occurrence. According to the National Institute of Health, growth plates are a type of tissue that eventually turns into mature bone in late adolescence. Prompt treatment of growth plate injuries is important for the proper development of the foot.
Sprains and strains are also common injuries for youth who are active in sports or dancing. If a young athlete experiences a sprain or strain, Hess recommends that they visit a medical professional to ensure proper healing and to rule out more serious injury.
Even if a young athlete hasn’t experienced a sports-related injury, Hess says regular medical checkups are still important for proper health of the foot and the whole body. According to FASA, checkups can be a time to address any potential ailments, make an injury prevention plan or ask questions about maintaining healthy feet. “It’s best to have them visit yearly, like a physical,” says Hess. “Or even every six months if an athlete is very active or if they have an injury history.”
To ensure young athletes stay in the game and off of the sideline, there are certain steps that young athletes, parents, caregivers and coaches can take to help reduce risk of illness or injury. Proper stretching and regular practice drills can help condition the athlete. Drinking plenty of water and maintaining hydration throughout an activity is also key to overall health.
Keeping up with a proper rest and recovery routine can help prevent injury throughout the season.
Wearing the proper footwear is also vital to healthy feet. Hess recommends athletes pick shoes that fit properly and are appropriate for the activity to properly protect and cushion the foot. “It is extremely important to have the correct footwear,” explains Hess. “Because the wrong footwear can lead to acute pain.”
To learn more about sports injury prevention or to learn more about FASA services, visit the Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates website. For updates, demonstrations and tips to stay healthy, visit the FASA Tiktok page, Instagram page or Facebook page.