As families prepare for baseball, softball, tennis and other spring sports activities, it's important that parents and caregivers are aware of the most common sports injuries and the best ways to prevent them.
Recent statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that almost one-third of all childhood injuries are sports-related, and that more than half of those are preventable.
"Children's and teenagers' bodies are especially susceptible to injury because of their rapid rate of growth. And bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments continue to develop throughout adolescence, coinciding with one of the most popular ages for youth sports participation," says Dr. Joshua Goldman , a UCLA Health sports medicine specialist who primarily treats children. "The rapid changes affect sport-specific biomechanics and coordination, which also increase the risk of sport-related injuries."
According to Goldman, parents and coaches should look out for two different types of conditions: acute injuries such as sprained ankles or ACL tears, and overuse injuries caused by repetitive sports-related motion like pitching in baseball and kicking in soccer.
Surprisingly, 62 percent of organized sports-related injuries occur during practice. About one in three parents say that their children do not take the same safety precautions in practice as they do in competitive games.
"Since more than half of all sports-related injuries are preventable, parents – and young athletes - need to be vigilant about safety, proper sports techniques, and preventing excessive training," says Goldman. "This applies to competitive sports as well as recreational athletics, including biking and skateboarding."
To help prevent injuries, Goldman recommends a dynamic warm-up before practices and games, equipment that fits properly, limiting training time to 16 hours per week and three seasons per year, and that parents and athletes pay close attention to fatigue, hydration, and pain that may develop during or after sporting activities.