With sports clubs running all year round, it's no surprise that young athletes are playing their chosen sport multiple times a week. However, this continuous playing can put a lot of stress on the same structures and increase the risk of injury. To help prevent injuries in your young athlete, here are 10 tips you can follow.
1. Educate Them
Young athletes may not be aware of good vs bad pain and how to deal with it if they experience an injury. Educate them on the importance of speaking up if they have any concerns and give them the confidence to do so.
2. Get a Pre-Season Screening
Many injuries can be prevented, even if the young athlete is not yet experiencing symptoms. A pre-season screening can help identify any potential risks and provide tips on how to prevent injuries from happening.
3. Encourage Variety
Consider changing the young athlete's activity or sport throughout the year to avoid continuous strain on the same joints and muscles. This will reduce the risk of overuse injuries like Osgood Schlatters.
4. Emphasise the Importance of Warming Up
A proper warm-up should include dynamic stretches, core activation, reaction drills, and functional movements. Simply running up and down the pitch is not enough.
5. Focus on Recovery
Recovery means more than just rest. It also includes dynamic mobility, static stretches, foam rolling, soft tissue massage, and other activities.
6. Plenty of Sleep
Lack of sleep can lead to physical and mental fatigue, decreased concentration, and increased risk of injury. Encourage the young athlete to get enough sleep to perform their best and reduce injury risk.
7. Hydration and Nutrition
Dehydration can lead to heat stroke and other symptoms like fatigue, cramping, and reduced concentration. Poor nutrition can result in weight gain and slow recovery times post-training. Encourage the young athlete to stay hydrated and eat well.
8. Prevent Over-Training
It's important to avoid over-training, which can lead to debilitating injuries. Make sure the young athlete is not putting their body under too much stress and tension without sufficient recovery time.
9. Recognising Injuries and Get Help Early
Young adults generally heal faster than adults, so if symptoms persist for more than 1-2 months, or if there is recurrent swelling or pain post-game or training, seek help from a physiotherapist.
10. Optimise Function and Control
Other physical factors like single-leg control, flexibility/mobility, robustness, and movement patterning can also put the young athlete at risk of injury. Ensure that these areas are optimized to reduce injury risk.
Protecting young athletes from injury is essential for their development and enjoyment of sports. By following these tips, you can help keep your young athlete healthy and active. If you're concerned about a potential injury, reach out to our family-run physiotherapy clinic for a free initial assessment.