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Back to School Injuries

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

By Ashley Heller, MPT

Founder of Surf and Sport Physical Therapy

Back to School Injuries

Student injuries are especially common when kids go back to school. Summer time is a great time to take vacations, disconnect, and relax from the normal routines. Once school starts back up, sports schedules and routines are back in full force. It is extremely common for kids to get injured after they go back to school from ramping up sports practice too aggressively after summer break.

a girl getting off school bus to go to school

Fall Sports

While fall sports offer a wonderful opportunity for exercise, camaraderie, and skill development, they also come with a heightened risk of sports-related injuries. Fall recreational sports like soccer, football, fall baseball, and cross-country running, expose students to potential sprains, strains, and more severe injuries like concussions. The shift from summer's relaxed pace to the intensity of organized sports can catch young athletes off guard, leading to overexertion and improper warm-ups. Overexertion and improper warm-ups are a leading cause of injury among student athletes, something that is highly preventable.

girls soccer practice
Soccer Practice

Common Overuse Injuries:

  • Rotator cuff tendonitis - Overhead Athletes

  • Patellar Tendonitis - Running Athletes

  • Osgood Schlatter’s - Running Athletes

  • Severs’ Disease (pediatric achilles tendinitis)

  • Shin Splints - Running Athletes

  • Elbow injuries - Baseball players

a man holding his knee in pain, patellar tendinitis
Knee pain

Common Back to School Injuries:

  • Ankle Sprains

  • Concussions

  • Knee Sprains

  • ACL tears

It is especially critical for coaches to prioritize injury prevention by implementing proper training regimens, emphasizing the significance of protective equipment, and educating athletes on recognizing their limits, and not overworking athletes by ramping up training too quickly or intensely. With these precautions in place, students can fully enjoy the benefits of fall recreational sports while minimizing the risk of injuries that could drastically change the season outlook.

a soccer player holding his knee on the grass
Soccer injury

When fall sports resume with school, it is crucial be mindful of:

  • Exercise Intensity

  • Exercise Duration

  • Exercise Frequency

  • Dynamic warm-ups

Progressive overload is key in injury prevention and building strength

  • Ramp up activity progressively

  • Ice sore muscles a few hours after exercise (no longer than 20 minutes)

  • Recovery days

a young boy swimming in pool
swimming for crosstraining

Minimizing Overuse Injuries

  • Overuse leads to muscle fatigue & tissue break down

  • Dynamic warm ups

  • No rest for kids means m fatigue does not have a chance to recover

  • Participating in Multiple Sports - promotes diverse athleticism that transcends between sports

  • Cross training - Swimming is a great recovery activity for dry land athletes

Minimizing overuse injuries is paramount in ensuring the long-term well-being of young athletes. Overuse injuries often stem from repetitive motions combined with inadequate rest, which can result in chronic pain and be detrimental to athletic performance. To prevent overuse injuries, coaches and parents need to prioritize proper training techniques and gradually increase the intensity and duration of activities. Encouraging cross-training and incorporating rest days into training schedules allows muscles and joints to recover, and promotes injury prevention.

Open communication between athletes and their coaches and parents is crucial to prevent an injury from escalating and promotes early intervention. Early physical therapy intervention can help minimize injury severity while typically allowing the student to continue athletic participation. Additionally, physical therapy will focus on an individualized plan of care to enhance the athletes performance during their recovery. Collaboratively, we can empower young athletes to excel in their chosen sports while safeguarding their physical well-being.

soccer player injured with coach on field
Coach helping injured player

Final Thoughts

The importance of minimizing overuse injuries cannot be overstated during the back to school season. By placing a strong emphasis on balanced training, gradual progression, and open communication between coaches, parents, and athletes, we can create a holistic approach to athletics. This approach not only enhances performance but also prioritizes the long-term health and well-being of our young athletes. A mindful, well-rounded approach to training will lead to a rewarding and injury-free sports season for all back-to-school athletes.

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