Dealing with Athletic Injuries
Other than sitting on the sidelines, there’s really no way to avoid some risk of injury as an athlete. You can, however, reduce your risk of getting seriously hurt. And if you are hurt, you can make sure you take the right steps to get treatment and return to your sport as soon as possible.
Sports injuries are fairly common among teens. Many teens might be new to their sport and still learning proper stretching and strength-training techniques. For example, if you don’t warm up correctly or use the right form you are more likely to be injured. Teens are also going through a major period of growth. During this period, bones usually grow before muscles and tendons, which can make injuries to their muscles, tendons, and growth plates more likely for teens than adult athletes.
There are two types of sports injuries: acute and overuse. Acute injuries happen all of a sudden, such as a hard hit in football or a bad landing from a layup in basketball. They cause bruises, muscle sprains, or bone breaks. And because acute injuries are usually caused by impacts they tend to be more severe, on average, compared to overuse injuries. Overuse injuries are from training too much or not training correctly. Examples of overuse injuries include stress fractures to bones and muscle sprains.
What should you do if you are injured? You should see a health provider right away–this is going to be a nurse or a doctor, who can tell what type of treatment makes sense for you. Depending on the extent of your injury, you may need physical therapy, a brace or a cast, strengthening exercises, or even surgery.
More severe injuries, such as concussions, can also have long-term impacts. It’s important to learn about what you can expect for recovery from your doctor. Also, do not start exercising again until you have approval to do so. Trying to go back before you are fully healed could result in your being injured again. And a second injury to the same bone or muscle could be worse than the first injury. Once cleared by your health provider you can safely return to your sport.
Lastly, as you get back in the game, do what you can to avoid future injuries. Make sure you warm-up before or at the beginning of practice, and that you eat a healthy diet, stay hydrated, and stretch. Also if you are not sure of how to do a certain exercise or routine, ask your coach to make sure you are using the proper technique.
And if you’d like additional support or tips, feel free to talk to a BeWell staff member. BeWell staff are trained in a variety of health topics, including the treatment and prevention of sports injuries, and they would be happy to help you. BeWell staff can also connect you to free or low cost medical care in the New York City area.
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/high-school-sports-injuries/
Johns Hopkins: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/articles-and-answers/prevention/10-tips-for-preventing-sports-injuries-in-kids-and-teens
Cleveland Clinic: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/3903-adolescent-sports-injuries