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5 Keys to Preventing Youth Sports Injuries

By Admin on 
Posted on September 16, 2015

 

Dr. George Friedhoff, Sports Medicine

Fall sports programs are well underway at high schools across Northeast Ohio. St. Vincent Charity Medical Center’s Sports Medicine Specialist Dr. George Friedhoff, DO, offers parents and students 5 key strategies to help prevent chronic or life-threatening injury this season.

“Today’s high school athletes train incredibly hard and put in thousands of hours during the year to not only make their school’s team, but to compete at the highest levels.It is so disappointing to these young men and women to suffer an injury, to have to sit out part or all of a season or, in some cases, to have to quit a sport all together. While we can never prevent all injuries, there are basic steps that all athletes can take to give themselves the best odds of staying healthy,” Dr. Friedhoff said.

 

  1. Core and Cross Training – Many athletes focus on the major muscle groups in the arms and legs when they strength train and fail to focus on the core muscles. Strengthening the core through daily use of planks and bridges substantially helps prevent back and lower body fractures, as well as ACL-related injuries. Cross training helps to build an athlete’s endurance while reducing the risk of repetitive or overuse injuries that occur when doing the same activity every day.
  2. Proper Technique – Understanding and utilizing the proper technique for a sport is critical to avoiding injury, including concussion.Most concussions in young athletes occur in head to head collisions, particularly in sports such as soccer and football.For example, learning and utilizing the Heads Up technique in football for tackling and blocking helps prevent head to head contact.
  3. Staying Hydrated - Risk of dehydration and heat stroke is much higher during hotter months.While coaches and players are more aware today of the need for water breaks throughout practice, Dr. Friedhoff said he is seeing an increasing risk among athletes due to the growing use of caffeine supplements and energy drinks.High levels of caffeine not only increase the heart rate, but can lead to dehydration even before practice begins.This, combined with muscle-building supplements such as creatine, increases the risk of cardiac arrhythmia and heat stroke.Dr. Friedhoff encourages parents to be aware of and to monitor their child’s use of these supplements.
  4. Proper Fitting Equipment – Student athletes and their parents should understand the proper equipment fitting techniques for their specific sport. Double checking proper fit of helmets, pads and protective gear will help ensure the equipment does its job at times of contact.
  5. Taking Breaks – The body needs regular breaks to recover from intense workouts.Dr. Friedhoff recommends taking at least one or two days a week off throughout a season to allow the muscles to rest.In addition, all athletes should take at least 3 to 4 weeks off per year to help prevent overuse injuries.

Fellowship-trained in sports medicine, Dr. Friedhoff has also held numerous sports medicine appointments, including team physician for Ohio University, Otterbein University, Ohio Athletic Conference Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships, Nationwide Columbus Marathon, NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships, PGA President’s Cup and All Ohio State Soccer Championships.


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