Sprains and Strains
the most common injuries among young athletes are sprains and strains.
Virtually all youth sports put athletes at risk for straining or spraining
certain parts of their bodies, making it crucial that parents and supervising
adults have a full understanding of how to prevent and treat them.
A sprain involves
the stretching or tearing of a ligament, which is the tissue that connects
bones or joints. A strain involves stretching or tearing of the muscle or
tendon structures. Both strains and sprains can cause limited mobility, pain
and swelling. If minor, they often heal quickly using the RICE technique
rest, ice, compression and elevation followed by gradual re-use.
attention is wise for more severe cases or any injuries in which the pain is
overly severe or causes complete immobility. Some strains and sprains can be
serious and require medical intervention, but in many cases, these youth
injuries can be treated with adequate rest and home care.
Although all youth sports present
opportunities for potential sprains and strains, certain sports do carry
specific risks at a higher rate than others. Below are some of the commonly
played youth sports, the injuries that are typically associated with each.
Basketball Due to the frequent movement and contact
involved in basketball, many parts of the body are vulnerable to injury, including
the hands. "Jammed fingers are a frequent injury experienced in basketball
because fingers and thumbs are constantly being utilized and hit through
repeated catching, passing, guarding and shooting. Also common among basketball
athletes are injuries to the knees, ankles and feet, due to repeated jumping
Cheerleading Cheerleading is considered one of the riskiest
sports for injury due to the athleticism and routines involved. One of the more
typical injuries experienced by cheerleaders is wrist pain because weight is
constantly being put on the wrists to execute flips, lift fellow athletes, and
other athletic demands.
pain is very typical of soccer players. Generalized shin pain that increases
over time are often referred to as shin splints, and is usually caused by
improper stretching, over-training, overuse, running or jumping, and inadequate
cleats. Shin splits are marked by pain in the lower leg which worsens while
running or exercising, a lingering ache that continues even during rest, and
tight or inflexible calves.
to the ACL the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee is a common injury in
football. Although typically thought of as an injury that damages the careers
of NFL superstars, athletes as young as nine or ten have now become susceptible
to ACL damage. With increasingly aggressive arena leagues and heightened
competition in youth football, younger athletes are more vulnerable to ACL
injury than in the past. This is particularly concerning because surgery to
treat ACL can cause more lasting damage because tissue and bones are still
has been a rapid increase in arm injuries among young pitchers, which is
usually the result of overuse and improper technique. One of these injuries, "little league elbow," seems to result
when the athlete winds up and uncurls the body too late before releasing the
ball. Recent studies indicate that 60
percent of 11- to 18-year-olds have sustained an injury due to the repetitive
motion and overuse of the elbow and shoulder.
Track The hamstrings are three muscles located in
the back of the thigh which are responsible for bending or flexing the knee.
Pulled hamstrings, which occur when one or more of the hamstring muscles have
been strained, are a common injury faced by track runners. A hamstring pull is
often the result of the athlete pushing the body to perform to maximum
capacity. It can also be caused by improper conditioning. A mild pull is often
associated with a slight pull or ache in the back of the leg. More severe cases
can involve swelling.