By Dr. John McCarroll and Dr. Thurman Alvey III
As young athletes take a break from the classroom and head to the playing fields and summer sports camps, it’s important for them to enjoy the activity, obtain health benefits from playing sports and experience the sense of pride that comes with participation in team sports.
However, some athletes push their bodies to the extreme and lose sight of what’s truly important — their health!
Roughly half of all injuries sustained by middle and high school athletes are the result of overuse, according to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. These can cause permanent damage that may hinder them later in life.
Here are some tips for specific sports:
- Rotate playing other positions besides pitcher.
- Concentrate on age appropriate pitching and adhere to pitch count guidelines from Little League. Don’t pitch more than two days in a row.
- Don’t pitch with elbow or shoulder pain.
- Avoid poor swing mechanics and ground impact forces.
- Limit the number of rounds played or practice balls struck per week.
- Stretch the back, shoulders and elbows to maintain flexibility.
- Wearing a helmet reduces head injuries by 85%.
- Shoe implants, wedges and cleat positions can prevent knee pain.
- Stretch hamstring, neck and hip flexor muscles to maintain flexibility.
- Flex and extend the wrist against light resistance with an exercise band three to four times a week to lessen pain and reduce injuries.
- Strengthen the muscles that extend the wrist or bend it backwards to decrease occurrence of tennis elbow.
- Wear the right kind of shoes to prevent stress fractures.
- Use well-fitting cleats and shin guards. There is evidence that molded and multi-studdied cleats are better than screw-in-cleats.
- Be aware of poor field conditions that can increase injury rates.
If you’re experiencing consistent pain from an activity, stop playing and see an experienced orthopedic doctor right away. If you need immediate help, consider our walk-in clinics, where you always get to see an M.D.
John McCarroll is a fellowship-trained, board-certified physician and founding partner of Methodist Sports Medicine who sees patients at our North walk-in clinic location. Thurman Alvey III is a primary care sports medicine specialist in acute musculoskeletal injury, concussion management, exercise prescription, sports dermatology, and medical conditions in athletes, who sees patients at our South walk-in clinic location.