A return to school also means a return to sports and the potential for injuries … especially for those who may have been sidelined during coronavirus restrictions.
“Returning to sports after a long break can bring added risk of sprains, tears or fractures if proper precautions aren’t taken,” says Derrick Heydinger, DO, board-certified in family medicine with an added qualification in sports medicine. He is a physician with Atlantic Medical Group Orthopedics, located at Atlantic Health System’s newly opened Clark-North Pavilion, which is seamlessly connected to Overlook Medical Center. “If a child has been in the house playing video games, it’s important that they adequately prepare themselves for activity on the playing field.”
To help prevent back-to-school sports injuries, Dr. Heydinger offers these suggestions:
- Get a preseason sports physical. A preseason physical can assess areas of concern prior to activity and determine whether a young athlete is fit to play. For children up to sixth or seventh grade, this can typically be handled by a primary care physician. For older children, physicals are frequently done through the school, where an affiliated physician experienced in sports medicine can perform sports-specific examinations.
- Stay hydrated. It may be fall, but summer temperatures have not subsided. Drink plenty of water before, during and after physical activity. Dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, heavy perspiration, or dilated pupils are signs of heat-related illness.
- Warm up and cool down. Warm up muscles with active stretches, such as jogging or jumping jacks, as well as passive stretches in each major muscle group to prevent injury. Stretching, as well as foam rolling, after activity can reduce muscle soreness and improve flexibility.
- Eat a balanced diet. Consume a well-balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins at regular intervals, around the same time each day.
- Get plenty of sleep. Rest between practices, games and events is essential for recovery. A lack of sleep and muscle fatigue predispose an athlete to injury. Overuse injuries, caused by too many sports and not
enough sleep, are most common among young athletes.
- Get the proper equipment. Prior to the start of practice, ensure that your child has all the necessary protective equipment: helmet, goggles, mouthguard, pads, shoes, etc.
- Learn the proper technique. Make sure your child knows the proper technique for throwing, tackling, kicking, catching, etc. Using proper form will help reduce the risk of concussion, sprains, tears and broken bones.
If parents notice a change in their athlete’s technique (such as the way they run or throw, persistent pain, swelling, or joint instability), it may be time to consult an orthopedist. “Small, lingering injuries can become bigger issues if not managed properly,” comments orthopedic surgeon Ben Brown, DO, who joins Drs. Heydinger and Jared Preston, MD, in offering the latest in surgical and nonsurgical care in orthopedics and sports medicine at Clark-North Pavilion. “We work closely with primary care providers, high school trainers, and physical therapists to ensure that patients of all ages receive the quality and continuity of care they expect and deserve.”
The team of orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine experts at Atlantic Health System’s Clark-North Pavilion offers multidisciplinary treatment for adults and children, from everyday fractures and sprains to complex ACL reconstructions, joint replacement and minimally invasive arthroscopic procedures. The 28,000-square-foot facility offers urgent care, multispecialty care, imaging services, physical therapy, an outpatient lab, and free and convenient parking, all in one location.
ATLANTIC MEDICAL GROUP
Drs. Brown, Heydinger and Preston are part of Atlantic Medical Group, a multispecialty group of healthcare providers. Learn more about Atlantic Medical Group Orthopedics >