Keeping Your Athlete Injury Free - Jake Danielson, LAT

Posted: September 3, 2019

Keeping Your Athlete Injury-Free
For parents, keeping their child-athlete healthy is on the forefront of their mind whenever they send their kid out to practice or competition. There some hot-button topics that have come up over the recent years such as sport specialization and head injuries. I will touch on each of these issues as concisely as I can.

Head Injuries in Sport
I could write several pages on this topic, but I will keep it short here instead. Most area schools, if not all, have some level of Athletic Training presence available to athletes. Athletic Trainers should be your resource on any potential head injury to your child if one is available. However, if there isn’t an AT available (or even if there is), the WIAA website is a tremendous source of information to parents. I would encourage parents to look through the WIAA concussion policy so that you can recognize signs and symptoms as well as familiarizing yourself with other things such as the return to play policy. Here is a link to that page: https://www.wiaawi.org/Health/concussions#4251592-concussion-signs--symptoms


Sport Specialization
Sport specialization is a topic that has been dug into much more in recent years with the increase in children specializing in one sport at earlier ages. Throughout my four year career as an Athletic Trainer, it seems to be becoming a trend to try to focus on one main sport by the time an athlete makes it to the high school level. I am not here to try to tell you that every athlete needs to play three sports, but there are potential risks to specialization. In a 2017 study performed in Wisconsin High Schools authored by Timothy McGuine, PhD, he concluded that athletes who describe themselves as moderately specialized have a 50% higher incidence of lower extremity injury that someone who classified themselves as lowly specialized. Athletes who described themselves as highly specialized had an 85% higher instance of lower extremity injury than the low group. 

Now, this isn’t to say that if your child can’t successfully play one sport injury free. There are important steps to take to make sure your child stays healthy. Make sure your athlete is doing training other that just the drills and workouts for a specific sport. There is a reason that baseball has put a pitch count on pitchers even at lower levels. If you continue to do the same movement over and over again, both bony structures and soft tissue can become affected. Runners often see it with shin splints, tendonitis, stress reactions, or even compartment syndrome. Think about it this way: if you go home every night and only sit on one side of your couch, one cushion will have a big dent in it over time and the other will remain unused. However, if you switch sides back and forth, both cushions will age equally. The message here is to strengthen and develop all of your muscle groups instead of repeatedly using one set.

Keeping your athlete healthy is one of the main concerns for parents. If your child is participating in a sport, please use your Athletic Trainer, Physical Therapist, Family Physician, WIAA resources, and any other available resources to educate yourself and your child on head injuries. It is also important to strengthen all muscle groups in the body to help prevent overuse injuries. If you have an athlete, consider calling Optimum Therapies to set up a movement assessment. This will help identify potential strength deficits or risk factors related to sport. This concludes my talk on head injuries, sport specialization, and couch cushion maintenance.

Thank you for reading!

Jake

Resources:
McGuine, Timothy A., et al. “The Effect of Sport Specialization on Lower Extremity Injury Rates in High School Athletes.” The Effect of Sport Specialization on Lower Extremity Injury Rates in High School Athletes, The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, 2017, www.sportsmed.org/AOSSMIMIS/Members/Downloads/MeetingResources/AM2017/McGuineAbstract.pdf. 

“When in Doubt, Sit Them Out.” Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, www.wiaawi.org/Health/concussions#4251592-concussion-signs--symptoms.

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