6 tips to protect kids in fall sports

9/3/2008

Back-to-school sports season linked to ankle injuries

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Media contact: Melissa Matusek
(773) 693-9300, ext. 1306
melissa.matusek@acfas.org


(CHICAGO - September 03, 2008) If your children are playing sports this fall, pay attention to six tips that could protect them from serious ankle injuries.

Every fall season, foot and ankle surgeons see an increase in ankle injuries among young athletes. Football, soccer and basketball are the sports most likely to lead to sprainsbroken bones and other problems, says Kansas City foot and ankle surgeon James Good, DPM.

Although he sprained his ankle several times playing basketball in high school, Dr. Good got prompt medical care and followed his doctor's rehabilitation plan. Now in his thirties, Good competes in triathlons. His top recommendation for parents is to get ankle injuries treated right away.

"What seems like a sprain is not always a sprain; in addition to cartilage injuries, your son or daughter might have injured other bones in the foot without knowing it. Have a qualified doctor examine the injury," says Good. "The sooner rehabilitation starts, the sooner we can prevent long-term problems like instability or arthritis, and the sooner your child can get back into competition."

Good, who is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS), offers these additional tips for parents:

--Have old sprains checked by a doctor before the season starts. A medical check-up can reveal whether your child's previously injured ankle might be vulnerable to sprains, and could possibly benefit from wearing a supportive ankle brace during competition.

--Buy the right shoe for the sport. Different sports require different shoe gear. Players shouldn't mix baseball cleats with football shoes.

--Children should start the season with new shoes. Old shoes can wear down like a car tire and become uneven on the bottom, causing the ankle to tilt because the foot can't lie flat.

--Check playing fields for dips, divots and holes. Most sports-related ankle sprains are caused by jumping and running on uneven surfaces. That's why some surgeons recommend parents walk the field, especially when children compete in non-professional settings like public parks, for spots that could catch a player's foot and throw them to the ground. Alert coaching officials to any irregularities.

--Encourage stretching and warm-up exercises. Calf stretches and light jogging before competition helps warm up ligaments and blood vessels, reducing the risk for ankle injuries.

For more information on treating ankle sprains, visit the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons' patient information Web site, FootHealthFacts.org.

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