With school back in full swing, fall sports have started up again. With proper form, these sports provide mental and physical benefits such as self-discipline and teamwork, while building strong bones, lean muscles and healthy habits around physical activity. Whether you are just beginning a sport or continuing to take part, it’s important to ease back into the game to minimize injuries.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in 2018, emergency departments, doctors’ offices and clinics treated:
- 111,019 people for volleyball-related injuries;
- 617,897 for football-related injuries;
- 371,001 for soccer-related injuries; and
- 80,617 for cheerleading-related injuries.
“The transition from summer athletics to fall sports poses challenges for our young athletes,” states Karen Sutton, MD, FAAOS, spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and HSS sports medicine surgeon. “Summer may have involved swimming, camps, clinics and time with friends, but fall tends to pick up the intensity and may throw some intense preseason training in. Ease into required pads and equipment needed for your sport and take frequent water breaks to avoid dehydration in preseason.”
Exercise caution this season while taking part in your favorite fall sport with safety tips from orthopaedic surgeons at the AAOS:
- Always get a pre-participation sports physical examination to ensure you’re in proper physical condition to play a sport.
- Know and abide by the rules of a sport.
- Wear appropriate protective gear (for example, a hard-shell helmet and padding for football, shin guards for soccer).
- Know how to correctly use athletic equipment.
- Always warm up before playing.
Avoid playing when very tired or in pain.
- Avoid overuse injuries by taking regular breaks and playing other sports. The signs of an overuse injury can be pain that cannot be tied to an acute injury and increases with activity, swelling, changes in form or technique and decreased interest in practice.
- Wear shoes that provide strong ankle and arch support.
- Athletes playing on hard surfaces should work on ankle strengthening and proprioception exercises with a band to avoid ankle sprains.
- Increase running mileage gradually. Encourage run-walk intervals for less conditioned runners.