7 great tips for kids to avoid certain injuries this summer
Now that kids are on summer vacation in New Jersey, it's time for them to enjoy playing outdoors again. But with that comes some common injuries that orthopedic surgeons often see, typically associated with summer sports.
Dr. Mark Rieger, an pediatric orthopedic surgeon at The Pediatric Orthopedic Center in Cedar Knolls, said the most common injuries among kids this time of year is from overuse. That's when the kids have not been conditioned properly and go back to playing quicker than they should.
He said they've been seeing a lot of knee pain, heel pain, and stress fractures. With baseball, the most common injuries are among pitchers called "Little League Shoulder and Elbow." That's overuse where the growth plates get overstressed and start doing micro fractures.
With swimming, the shoulder muscles may not be balanced properly so the ball of the shoulder hits against the collar bone and the tendon between gets irritated.
With the runners, there's a tremendous amount of knee and heel pain from repetitive trauma.
Playground and trampoline injuries involving bone fractures, muscle strain, and clavicle fractures are also common.
Rieger said the secret formula to avoiding such injuries is to follow what he calls, "The 7-S Rules." Those include stretching, speed of training, strength training, surface, shoes, structure and supper.
Stretching: He said kids need to stretch especially since they've been inactive due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bones grow first. Muscles catch up so it's important to stretch so they don't put stress where the muscles hit the bones.
Speed of training: The body is a machine. Kids need to slowly increase the speed of training so as to avoid injury.
Strength training: It's the same thing as speed of training. Rieger said kids should increase the strength but doing it without injuring the tendon or the growth plate.
Surface: The surface kids practice on is very important. There is actually a correlation between the surface they practice on and the type of injuries they get.
Shoes: This is a general term for equipment. He said kids grow and they need to make sure they have the proper equipment.
Structure: Some kids are built to be better at certain sports than others. So Rieger said he tries to guide them toward certain sports that are more appropriate for their body type.
Supper: It's very important kids have good, strong nutritional support especially during growth spurts.
There are a lot of technologies used to help kids recover from their injuries faster and get back to the sports they enjoy. Rieger said physical therapy is always beneficial. Ultrasounds help stimulate the blood supply for muscles and tendons. The blood then brings nutrition and increased healing.
He said when kids are injured, other surgical procedures may be done which are minimally invasive. That means smaller incisions and quicker healing so they can return to their activities a lot quicker.
Rieger said a lot of times parents don't know when their child's pain from a sports injury is something that requires medical attention or not. He said pain at rest or pain that wakes someone up at night are concerning and require medical advice.
If kids have constitutional symptoms (pain associated with fever, chills, weight loss or fatigue) that should also be taken medically seriously. Sometimes these symptoms may not be related to just sports injuries.