If you’re a high school athlete
… Certain sports will make you more susceptible to certain types of sports injuries
… Injuries you sustain in youth could lead to problems later in life without proper care
… You must see to the treatment of any injuries and fully heal before returning to your sport
The Nature of High School Sports
Student athletes at every level face unique challenges, perhaps none more than high school athletes. Juggling practice and game schedules with school, work, and a social life can be difficult, and the pressures to do it all can lead to overwork and injuries. Additionally, pressures to be in top shape for college scouts and scholarships can create even more stress–sometimes to disastrous effect. Students who return to the game prematurely can risk further injury.
High school athletes are much more likely to sustain injuries to muscles, tendons, and growth plates than adult athletes. Generally, this occurs because younger athletes are still growing, and often in uneven ways, with bones tending to grow before other parts of the body. Such uneven growth can result in tighter muscles and tendons than a fully grown individual.
Common High School Sports Injuries and How to Prevent Them
ACUTE INJURIES are caused by a traumatic event, for instance two baseball players colliding while trying to catch a ball, or an athlete hitting an obstacle, such as the boards in hockey. Acute injuries include things like contusions (bruises), sprains, strains, and bone fractures. Sprains and strains are often mistaken for one another by the untrained (and because they sound alike); however, they are different. Sprains are when a ligament is torn, whereas strains are the tearing of muscle or tendon.
INJURIES DUE TO OVERUSE occur over a period of time due to repetitive movement and can affect various parts of the body. Muscles, tendons, ligaments, growth plates, and even bones can suffer overuse. Common sports that see overuse injuries include tennis and baseball (the elbow), swimming, volleyball, and football (the shoulder), golf (the knee), cheerleading and gymnastics (the wrists), and soccer (the shins). Additionally, stress fractures can occur due to overuse and the breakdown of older bone at a pace that newer bone can’t keep up with. Dancers will often experience stress fractures, as will gymnasts, basketball players, runners, and tennis players.
CATASTROPHIC INJURIES occur more often in contact sports, but can happen to any high school athlete. These injuries are more serious because they affect the head and neck, and can cause damage to your brain or spinal cord. TBIs, or traumatic brain injuries, are most often seen in the form of a concussion. Football players, hockey players, and soccer players are especially vulnerable to concussions due to high intensity contact with other athletes during the game. Growth plate injuries occur to the cartilage at the ends of growing bones and are susceptible to fracture. Because growth plates later ossify into bone, injuries to the growth plate can negatively affect bone growth and formation. Athletes active in high impact sports like football, basketball, and gymnastics often have a higher instance of growth plate injuries.
In order to reduce the risk of injury, you and your teammates should be taught proper technique and be supervised by qualified coaches and managers. Proper conditioning is paramount to preventing injuries, and you should never try to jump directly into intense, frequent workouts at the beginning of the season, even if you may be able to handle such workouts when in peak condition.
Additionally, while it can be tempting to focus on one sport and play on multiple teams, such as a school team and club teams, doing so can increase your risk of overuse injuries. Playing multiple sports can actually be good for your athleticism and as well as prevent injury.
Steps to Take After an Injury
No matter the cause or nature of the injury, you should seek medical attention as soon as you begin to suffer symptoms that affect your performance or day to day life. A dangerous tendency for high school athletes is to belittle their injuries in order to continue playing, which can result in permanent damage or being out of the game much longer than they would have been had they sought treatment immediately. Sometimes, your injury will require imaging in order to accurately diagnose it in addition to the doctor’s physical examination. Treatment for injuries will be dependent on the severity and the individual athlete, but will commonly include a combination of physical therapy, strength training, and wrapping, bracing, or casting, with some injuries requiring surgery.
Before you return to practice or games, you must follow your entire treatment plan and be fully healed. Returning to activities too soon can result in further damage or reinjury.
True Sports Physical Therapy – Where Maryland Athletes Rehab
At True Sports, we’re sports-focused because you’re sports-focused. It’s where the best physical therapists in Baltimore and Maryland provide the highest level of sports physical therapy and expertise you need to get back to your sport.
With five convenient state-of-the-art locations to choose from, any athlete who takes their rehab seriously can get awesome care and extraordinary results. Select your location and schedule an appointment and have True Sports get you back to your team. For questions about insurance or self-pay rates, please call our office at 1-401-946-1672.