Kids Foot & Ankle Tips for Fall Sports

The fall season is approaching and every year, there is an increase in ankle injuries among young athletes.  Football, soccer, and basketball are the sports most likely lead to sprains, broken bones and other problems.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 30 million children and adolescents participate in youth sports in the United States and more than half of all sports injuries in children are preventable.  Children ages 5 to 14 account for almost 40 percent of all sports-related injuries treated in hospitals.  On average the rate of severity of injury increases with a child's age.

So how can parents be proactive and help protect their children from serious injuries in playing sports this fall?  Here are tips for staying healthy this season:

  • Children should start the season with replacing their old shoes with new shoes.  Old shoes can wear down like an old tire and become flat and uneven on the bottom, causing the ankle to tilt because the foot can't lie flat.
  • Always buy the right shoe for the specific sport. Players shouldn't mix soccer cleats with football shoes.
  • Check the safety of the playing fields for dips and holes.  A foot can be broken if the child's foot gets lodged in a hole on a field.  Uneven surfaces on fields can also cause ankle sprains.   It is important that parents walk the field, especially when children compete in non-professional setting like public parks, for spots that could catch a player's foot and throw them to the ground.  Coaching officials should also be alerted to any irregularities.
  • Encourage fun stretching and warm-up exercises.  Light jogging and calf stretches before competition helps warm up ligaments and blood vessels, reducing the risk for ankle injuries and foot problems.
  • A supportive ankle brace may prevent a child's previously injured ankle from additional sprains.  So make sure and have old sprains checked by a podiatrist before the season starts. 
  • Get ankle injuries treated right away.  What seems like a sprain is not always a sprain and other bones in the foot may have been injured without knowing it.  It is best to have a qualified podiatrist examine the injury.

Overall, families should be mindful of the risks associated with different sports and take important measures to reduce the chance of injury this fall.

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