Sports Injuries in Children: Common Injuries and How to Prevent Them

RAPID CITY, S.D. – With school back in session, team sports are back in full swing. While organized sports offer kids many benefits, they also come with the risk of injury. Becky Baird, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Westside Clinic Manager at Sundog Rehabilitation suggests that by learning about common sports injuries in children, as well as ways to prevent them, you can better support your child and encourage healthy habits that last a lifetime.

According to Dr. Baird, different types of injuries arise depending on the sport that’s being played. For example, ACL injuries are common in soccer, shin splints are common in cross country and track, and concussions occur often in football. “With all sports, musculoskeletal impairments from the ankle to the shoulder are prevalent,” said Dr. Baird.

Additionally, sports injuries are quite common at the beginning of sports seasons, as many children didn’t partake in their sport over the summer. The deconditioning that results from not playing a sport for a period of time can lead to an increased risk of injury, says Dr. Baird.

Most sports injuries in children heal relatively quickly and don’t have long-term effects, but that’s not always the case. “In younger children, for example, fractures along the growth plates can increase the risk of stunting bone growth,” said Dr. Baird. Another example is children who practice gymnastics. Gymnasts have an increased risk of getting spondylolisthesis, which is essentially little fractures in their spine. In these cases, the children may suffer from long-term effects from their injuries.

Reducing the risk of sports injuries in children starts before they even get on the field. Dr. Baird says that one thing she sees a lot is children wearing their backpacks incorrectly. “An incorrectly fitted backpack can have negative effects on a child’s posture and, consequently, their core,” said Dr. Baird. “This can increase children’s risk of injuring their extremities.” Ensure that your child’s backpack fits correctly by adjusting the shoulder straps so that the backpack is high on the back. The backpack shouldn’t sway from side to side during walking. If it does, the straps are too loose. A child should also only carry about 10 percent of their body weight in their backpack.

Another crucial element of preventing injuries is ensuring your children are getting enough sleep. According to Dr. Baird, six to 12-year-olds should get nine to 12 hours of sleep, while 13 to 18-year-olds should get eight to ten hours. Getting less than eight hours of sleep increases a child’s risk of injury by 1.7 times.

Hydration is also huge, especially for children participating in sports. “They should be drinking half a cup of water every 20 minutes when they’re doing moderate exercise, especially if it’s in the heat,” said Dr. Baird.

Lastly, it’s important that children stretch and warm up before engaging in sports. This will increase tensile flexibility, reducing the risk of torn or pulled muscles, says Dr. Baird.

The benefits of kids’ sports are numerous, however, they do increase your child’s chances of getting injured. Thankfully, there are many things you can encourage your child to do to reduce their chances of getting injured during sports.

If your child has a sports injury, the team at Sundog Rehabilitation can help them get back to the action ASAP. To schedule and appointment, visit us at or call 605-787-2719.

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