Spring is finally in the air and with that comes baseball, softball, T-ball and soccer! In 2017, it was estimated that over 35 million US children regularly participate in some type of sports program. Foot and ankle injuries are some of the most common issues faced among the young athlete in these sports. For parents and caregivers, sometimes the best approach is to be proactive rather than reactivate. However, in the world of raising children, that’s not always possible. Here we will discuss young athlete injury prevention measures and treatment procedures to keep your child at their peak performance level.
First and foremost, a preseason physical is at the top of the list to ensure your athlete is physically healthy enough to play in their preferred sport. A general physical appointment could determine whether or not your child has any pre-existing conditions such as asthma or allergies that may impair their ability to participate without further medical assistance. In addition, this appointment may provide findings of other more serious medical ailments that involve a heart, dermatologic, biomechanical or orthopedic condition.
Providing your young athlete with the proper equipment could also determine whether or not they are more prone to a foot or ankle injury. This includes the correct footwear for their sport with the optimal cleat height, cushioning, and ankle support made with a quality material. The rigidity or cushioning of the shoe will depend on the sport and position of your athlete.
Proper hygiene is also very important for young athletes. This includes washing the skin with soap and water to remove dirt and completely drying the area. The use of anti-fungal sprays and powders can also help to diminish or eliminate any skin irritations that may occur.
Skin irritations and contusions are very common in young athletes and can be easily healed if treated early. These conditions include, but are not limited to, ingrown toenails, subungual hematomas, fungal infections, or calluses. Should these problems become out of control, a podiatrist can help to diagnose and treat with procedures like nail surgery, skin debridement, or a prescription medication.
Orthopedic injuries can occur very frequently in youth sports, but are usually minor. These include sprains, pulled muscles, joint dislocations and fractures. While easy to treat, they may cause your young athlete to be absent from their sport for a short amount of time to allow the healing process to take place. It is best that these types of injuries be treated by a medical physician to instruct both the parents and the athlete on how handle the treatment on an ongoing basis. The RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is the most common form of treatment for these injuries. It is preferred that these types of injuries heal completely before returning to their sport.