Summer is almost here, and that means kids and teens will soon be running around playing pickup games in the park or joining their traveling team for tournaments across the state. Our bodies need less work when we’re younger to stay healthy, but that doesn’t mean young athletes are invincible to injuries. Below, we take a look at some tips for young athletes on how they can keep their feet and ankles healthy before, during and after sporting events.
Young Athlete Foot Care
If you are a young athlete or you’re the parent of a young athlete, keep these tips in mind if you want to keep them strong and injury-free during the sports season.
1. Cross Training – As we’ve written about on the blog before, single sport specialization increases your risk of developing repetitive stress injuries because only the same muscle groups are worked. This can lead to a disparity in strength between different areas of your body, and injuries can result. If you’re only participating in one sport, be sure to work in some cross training so that you strengthen a variety of muscles groups. Or, pick up a different sport in the offseason!
2. Build Up Your Conditioning – You’re probably at your best sports fitness level at the end of the season, and you need to realize that it’s going to take a while to get back to game-level conditioning. Begin running or light practice sessions before the first official practice or game so that your body is ready for the rigors of athletic competition. Don’t go into tryouts or your first practice without having conditioned during the offseason.
3. Shoe Choice – The most fashionable athletic shoe is rarely the option that best contours to your feet, so skip the high-priced sponsored shoes and make sure you find a pair that fits your feet well. Be sure you try on the pair in the store so you know how they fit before you buy. Also, break them in a bit before wearing them to practice or a game so you know how they’ll respond to athletic movements.
4. Preventing Athlete’s Foot – Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that thrives in warm, damp locations, like a foot that’s inside a sweaty sock. Pack extra socks to change into if your feet really sweat, and avoid going barefoot in locker rooms or other places where there’s plenty of germ contamination.
5. Playing Hurt Vs. Playing Injured – Finally, you should realize the difference between playing hurt and playing injured. If you roll your ankle and have some minor discomfort, you can probably keep playing through the pain. However, if you hear a pop or have severe pain in your hamstring, calf or Achilles, take yourself out of the game. There will be plenty more games to play in, and if you let a small problem snowball into a big injury because you tried to play through the injury, you could end up missing a lot more time. Parents, coaches and trainers all need to play an active role in managing player injuries so they don’t get worse.