The start of a new season often brings new intentions to rally the family to live a healthier lifestyle and exercise more. At the same time, as we enter the school year, we’re busting out the pompoms and cleats for another series of gridiron showdowns. Go, Tigers! (or Dolphins! or Pirates!) In our zeal to get across the goal line, we can sometimes fail to prioritize fitness and sports safety measures. Keep your eye on the ball to avoid risking injury before the first whistle even blows.
“Setting a family goal is fantastic, but it’s important to ease into any exercise that’s new to you or that you haven’t done in a while,” says Robert Chong, MD, a board-certified pediatrician in College Park. “And if you’ve been inactive for an extended period or have health concerns, check with your physician before starting an exercise program.”
Dr. Chong suggests setting your family up for fitness success by first getting your gear and yourselves in working order. “Before you start, make sure your athletic shoes fit well and are in good shape – a running store will help you choose the right pair,” he says. “This can help prevent rolling an ankle or putting undue strain on your feet, knees, hips and back. You’ll thank yourself later if you can bypass painful conditions like plantar fasciitis and shin splints. Stretching before exercise, and resting a day between workouts, are also essential parts of an injury-free plan,” says Dr. Chong. “It seems simple, but bad shoes, failing to warm up and overexertion are big reasons adults and kids get sidelined from the activities they enjoy.”
4 Common Sports Injuries to Avoid
Be aware of these four common sports injuries and seek medical advice if you notice symptoms.
o Achilles tendon ruptures and tears: Often seen in middle-aged athletes who haven’t stretched. Can happen in any sport that involves running.
o Rotator cuff tears or impingements: Caused by straining a cold muscle in a sudden overhead motion, such as a tennis serve.
o Sprains or strains of the medial collateral ligament: This ligament straps the inside of the knee joint. Often triggered by a lack of strength or flexibility.
o Elbow tendonitis: An inflammation of the tendons that extend from elbow to wrist. Caused by repeated movement; and can affect bowlers and racket-sport enthusiasts.
It may be fall, but it’s still Central Florida. Easily the most important part of playing sports in this heat is proper hydration. “Be sure your family drinks plenty of fluids before, during and after strenuous activity,” says Kashif Qureshi, MD, a board-certified Family Medicine physician in Altamonte Springs. “At school, your child should have access to water when they need it, on the playground or the football field. Dehydration and heat exhaustion are serious and can happen fast.”
If you or your child experience the following symptoms, you should immediately move to a cooler place, stop exercising and cool down by pouring chilled water over your head, ears, neck and wrists, or use wet cloths, compresses and fanning.
o Chilled, moist skin
o Dark urine
o Dizziness, lightheadedness
o Nausea and vomiting
Concussion injuries are in the news a lot these days. “I’m glad to see so much concussion coverage, lately,” says William Felix, MD, CAQSM, a board-certified Sports Medicine physician in Lake Nona. “These are serious injuries and every precaution should be made to protect athletes from them.”
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occurs when the brain bounces within the skull. It can happen when two players collide on the field, when a child stumbles and hits his head on the ground, or during a bicycle or car accident, to name a few potential causes. Head injuries are most commonly associated with football, but concussions can (and do) occur in sports ranging from soccer to wrestling to cheerleading.
“While contact sports come to mind most often, nearly all sports and physical activities come with some risk for concussion,” says Dr. Felix. “In fact, in women’s college sports, cheerleading has the highest rate of concussions.”
At the same time, the risk for concussions needs to be balanced against the benefits of getting moving. “While injury risks need to be recognized and are not something to take lightly,” Dr. Felix states, “physical activity is encouraged at all ages. I encourage my patients to get out there, stay safe, and have fun.”
Signs & Symptoms of Youth Concussion
When a concussion is sustained, a wide range of symptoms may be present. What a supervising adult observes often differs from what the child or teen suffering from a concussion reports. Here are some of the signs to watch for:
Commonly Observed by Parents or Coaches:
– Appearing dazed or stunned
– Confusion about an instruction, assignment, score or opponent
– Clumsy movement
– Delayed response time
– Loss of consciousness (even briefly)
– Mood, behavior or personality changes
– Problems with memory (for example, can’t recall events surrounding the injury)
Reported by Children and Teens:
– Headache or pressure in the head
– Nausea or vomiting
– Ringing sound in ears
– Dizziness or balance problems
– Double or blurred vision
– Sensitivity to light or noise
– Feeling sluggish or groggy
– Sleeping more or less than usual
– Confusion or trouble concentrating
– Memory problems
– Feeling “off” or down
To find the perfect primary care, or sports medicine, physician or pediatrician for your family, call (407) 490-4985. Or visit FHMedicalGroup.com for a customized search by zip code. All of our physicians are part of the Florida Hospital Care Network.
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