Youth Sports: The Best Way To Recover From Injuries

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Many youth athletes today would rather play through the pain than miss a practice or a big game. They’ll ignore an injury and hope that it will just go away with time. Unfortunately, neglecting an injury usually leads to an overuse or repetitive trauma injury and can, in extreme cases, affect the player’s ability to play at all.

Overuse injuries are caused by repetitive stress on the muscle and skeletal system without enough rest to allow the body to adapt. Young athletes are especially at risk as their bodies are still developing. Most of these injuries occur during adolescent growth spurts.

As a direct result of the rise in repetitive trauma injuries in young athletes, sports medicine experts are now urging a larger role for athletic trainers at schools and sports facilities. With an effective rehabilitation program, highly trained athletic trainers can help players recover and avoid lasting damage or interrupting the competitive sports schedule. Facilities should look to include more trainers that specialize in sports-related injury and rehabilitation to their staff to ensure the proper recovery of their players. In a recent study conducted by the American Medical Society for Sports medicine, they recommend that facilities enforce preventative training and conditioning regimens, scheduled rest periods and requiring a pre-participation physical exam to assess a player’s ability to play. They also suggest enforcing limits on repetitive motions such as pitching and hitting as well as identifying any injuries certain athletes are prone to.

John DiFiori, head of the division of sports medicine at the University of California Los Angeles indicates that these preventative exams, “…gives parents a better basis for making a decision about their child’s participation”. In other words, if the assessment indicates that their child is prone to repetitive injuries, they may want to consider enrolling their child in an alternative sport.

Access to athletic trainers in school sports programs has doubled over the last 20 years, but only about a third of high schools have full-time professionals on staff, according to the National Athletic Trainers Association. Moreover, many community programs such as soccer and gymnastic leagues don’t have athletic trainers on board. Some states are considering legislation to require a medical professional be present at high school sporting events.

With more athletic trainers on staff, the better the chances are of avoiding an overuse injury in young athletes before they turn into a serious medical issue. For example, if a trainer catches an injury in time, he can put the player on a daily routine of stretching and applying hot and cold therapy with an electrical stimulation device to improve blood flow to muscles to reduce pain. Additionally, during practices, the player may be instructed to kick fewer balls, pitch a little less, hit less, etc., as well as rest for a few days after each game.

The key to avoiding overuse injuries is to catch them before they worsen. Unfortunately, in most cases, the player will let the injury get worse before seeking professional help. The goal of sports organizations and facilities should be to incorporate more athletic trainers into the overall sports program to prevent these injuries from occurring in the first place.

Five Steps to Safeguard Your Sports Facility Against Liability

5 Steps to Safeguard Your Sports Facility Against Liability

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Ever had an athlete twist an ankle on your field, or worse: break a leg, dislocate a shoulder, or sustain a head injury? Ever had someone run into a brick wall? I’m serious here — at one football field, a brick wall was placed just beyond the end zone, and a player ran full speed into it. Be glad you weren’t the owner of that field when the question of liability arose — because, when you run a sports facility with a field, the question of liability always arises. You have to be vigilant about it, and take constant measures to both protect players from injury and yourself from litigation. What can you do?

  1. Start with common sense. There are no published industrywide standards for all aspects of sports fields, but there are generally accepted expectations. Is your playing field level? Is it free of debris, holes, depressions, and other potential safety hazards, such as loose seams and worn patches? Is there a risk of rocks rising to the surface, and is the field playable when wet? Your field maintenance efforts should focus first on safety, while your common sense should guide you in terms of what is safe and what isn’t.
  2. Next, take a look at your field as if you’ve never seen it before. If there are liability issues, you’ve probably become so accustomed to seeing them that you don’t really notice them anymore. Take the brick wall, for instance: Any field manager who has stopped to think about it would have realized the danger. However, it’s easy to not think about things when you’ve got a routine and a checklist of tasks to accomplish. Step onto your field and look around. Are there poorly placed walls? Are there ridges or lips on the field?

    If it’s an expanded field, such as a soccer field, is there sufficient space for athletes to slide without hitting fences? Is there room to comply with American Disability Act requirements? See everything as if it is for the first time and make assessments. If you’re too busy to consider all of the potential problems, or are just too familiar with your field to be able to see it with a fresh eye, don’t hesitate to have an outside firm audit safety issues. If you don’t have the budget for an outside inspection, consider asking a fellow sports field manager to inspect your facility in exchange for you to inspect theirs.
  3. Do your paperwork. Make sure you have contracts, insurance documents, and anything else you might need in place, in order to manage any financial and legal liability. If anything unfortunate ever does occur, you’ll need to have the paperwork ready on hand.
  4. Don’t delay. When you identify a potential problem, fix it right away. No, scratch that: First document it by noting the problem, how and when it was discovered, and what the strategy for resolution is. Then go ahead and fix it.
  5. Finally, after an issue has been discovered, documented, and dealt with, schedule regular re-inspection times (document your re-inspections!). Then take the time to analyze: Why did the problem occur in the first place? Could it lead to other problems? Are there ways to avoid such problems in the future? Remember, the best way to reduce risk is through prevention. This way, any time and resources you invest into large-scale improvements now will pay off for you down the road.