The injuries of professional athletes are well-known and talked about, and for good reason. An injury can seriously hinder a professional athletes chance of playing a sport ever again and can affect their livelihood. Less talked about though, and just as serious, is the rate of injuries in school sports. Much like their older, more established athletes, school sports players can have their futures completely sidelined by an injury, forever affecting their chance at a scholarship, future career, and even their health. Here’s what you need to know about school sports injuries:
Types of Injuries
Due to the fact that school sports players are still growing, the kinds of injuries they get are different to those of professional athletes. In teenagers, bones and muscles grow at different rates, with the bones growing at a faster pace. This uneven growth causes the bones to pull on the muscles and tendons, resulting in muscle, tendon, and growth plate injuries. The most common injuries for school sports players are:
- Acute Injuries: Caused by trauma to the bone or ligament, these injuries result in contusions, strains, sprains, and fractures.
- Overuse Injuries: Occur gradually over time and are caused by a failure to let the body properly heal. Overuse injuries can cause stress fractures and torn ligaments
- Catastrophic Injuries: Including concussions and growth plate injuries, this type of injury can have serious and lasting effects on an athlete.
High Risk Sports
While it is commonly known that football holds the highest rate of injury among school sports players, many other sports have their fair share of related injuries. Somewhat surprisingly, concussions are prominent in the majority of school sports, proving that proper prevention in all areas of athletics is necessary. Associated risks with the most popular school sports are as follows:
- Football: ligament sprains and fractures and concussions
- Soccer: ACL sprains, ligament sprains, fractures, and concussions
- Basketball: knee, foot and ankle injuries, strains, and sprains
- Cheerleading: muscle strains, elbow and wrist injuries, fractures, ligament sprains, and concussions
- Lacrosse: head and face contusions, lower back pain, ankle and knee sprains, wrist fractures, and concussions
- Baseball: ligament and muscle sprains, contusions, Pitcher’s elbow
Proper prevention for many sports related injuries, such as acute and overuse injuries, includes sport specific conditioning. Injuries are more likely to occur when an individual begins playing a sport more, whether with increased exertion or for a longer period of time. All athletes should begin training prior to the official start of their sport’s season, and those who may be out of shape should begin conditioning even earlier.
Coaches should also ensure that their players are maintaining proper form. A number of injuries occur when an athlete is not performing a move correctly and, as a result, are extending their muscles in dangerous and painful ways.
Prevention of injuries can also be attained by abstaining from a sport for a period of rest. Though the current sports culture encourages year-round participation, many doctors are urging parents to limit their child’s sports to one season to prevent overuse injuries.
Many young adults and teenagers believe that they are invincible, but if the numbers surrounding school sports related injuries are true, they are anything but. School athletes are injured at the same rate as professional athletes, yet the sports culture is becoming more and more demanding of young athletes, potentially putting them at risk. Prevention should be widely encouraged by all coaches and parents so that less young athletes are injured playing the sport they love.