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4 Reasons to Treat Student-Athlete Injuries with Physical Therapy

4 Reasons to Treat Student-Athlete Injuries with Physical Therapy

Sports injuries are common among athletes – both professional and high-school student-athletes. However, as a high school athlete, your injuries are a bit different because your body is still growing. The growth of bones, tendons, and muscles don’t occur at the same rate. Sports injuries not only affect your physical activity but also can cause stress, anger, and fear so it is imperative you take appropriate measures to tackle and prevent injuries.

Physical therapy has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to deal with sports injuries, especially because of the customized treatment each patient receives. Here are just some of the ways you can benefit from physical therapy treatment:

Guidance

ACPT’s physical therapists are well experienced when it comes to sports injuries. They can offer overall advice on how to prevent injuries as well as sport-specific tips. If you’re already battling injuries or soreness, a physical therapist will also guide you on ways to quickly recover.

Proper exercises

Through physical therapy, you can learn the best exercises and the ones that are right for you. This helps prevent new injuries and manage existing pain. A physical therapist will evaluate the level of your injury and offer you tailored exercises to help you recover fast.

Returning to sports activities

So many high-school student-athletes make the mistake of returning to full sporting activities when it is not the right time. Even though your body looks as though you’ve fully recovered, and you want to return to playing, doing so may eventually result in another injury. Seek the advice of your physical therapist who knows the severity of your injury and wait for their green light to return to the game.

Preventing future injuries

Preventative care is very important for every athlete. After all, you don’t want to get another injury immediately after your rehabilitation! A physical therapist can recommend the best protective equipment to prevent injuries depending on the type of sport, such as shin pads and orthotic shoe inserts, as well as exercises to help strengthen your weak areas and prepare you for games yet to come.

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Parent Tip: Active Kids Become Healthy Adults

With child obesity still an epidemic in the U.S. and reams of research showing both the immediate and long-term benefits of youth exercise, it’s the duty of parents today to make movement and activity a part of kids’ lifestyles.

And the first step in teaching kids to be active is to be a good role model.

“Kids are more often than not going to imitate their parents when it comes to activity level,” says ACPT Physical Therapist Joe Trimarchi. “If you’re an active person who goes for walks, bike rides, spends time outdoors and plays with them regularly, your kids are going to learn that’s what life is all about – moving around and enjoying the world.”

And in a country where more than one in six kids between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese, and just one in three are physically active each day, making movement and exercise a daily part of life is a critical habit to help kids form at a young age. Why?

Active kids are more likely to become healthy adults.

Studies have shown that being healthy and active as a youth can lead to a reduced risk of developing a number of serious health conditions later in life – obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even cancer.

Strong evidence also exists tying activity with greater academic and social achievement in children. It also helps ward off anxiety and depression at a young age.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all children and adolescents ages 6 to 17 should participate in one hour of physical activity each day …at a minimum.

“That may seem like a lot to squeeze into an already full day of school, work and other commitments, but this is really a modest goal I’d actually like to see kids exceed,” Trimarchi says. “I read recently the average American kid might spend up to 7 hours a day in front of a screen. So, they definitely have time for play and exercise.”

To help your child develop a love of movement and physical activity, ACPT offers these tips:

► Play with Your Kids

Be a leader when it comes to activities with your kids by, first and foremost, making it fun! Starting at a young age, take them outdoors for a game of tag, building forts, playing catch, or to raking up a pile of leaves for jumping. Keep in mind that if you have fun being active, they’ll no doubt imitate the positive vibes.

► Go On Adventures

Simple walks and bike rides are fun, but turning them into adventures can give the activities some staying power. Turn the walk into a scavenger hunt, go geocaching instead of just hiking or cycling, or turn a swim in the lake into a rock-collecting and/or skipping competition.

► Provide Options & Choice

From toys and games to different parks, facilities and even clubs/leagues, when you give children variety, they’ll be more eager to actively participate in their activities of choice.

► Be the Support System

As a parent, be active in helping your child sort through options, connect with others with similar interests (i.e., friends and teammates), and offering the support they need to participate and be successful. Having mom and/or dad on the journey can go far in motivating a kid to stick with and enjoy new activities.

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Playing Multiple Sports Leads to Healthier Kids

In an era of specialization in sports involving athletes of all ages, the professionals at ACPT join most medical experts in agreeing that young athletes generally remain mentally and physically healthier, achieve greater success, and learn to enjoy a lifetime of physical fitness when they opt to play multiple sports. 

Trimarchi adds that, in contrast, allowing youths to specialize in a sport year-round can lead to burnout, a greater risk of experiencing overuse injuries, and less long-term success. 

“Encouraging our kids to specialize in a single sport throughout the year isn’t putting them on the right path toward success without risking injury and burnout,” said Trimarchi. “While this path has worked out for some, these stories are very rare and overlook the fact that the risks of specialization far outweigh the rewards, especially when it comes to youth athletes.” 

It’s been estimated that up to 60 million U.S. youths ages 6 to 18 years participate in some form of athletics. More than 5 million of these athletes experience an injury each year.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, at least 50 percent of athletic injuries are related to overuse, the types of injuries for which one-sport athletes are particularly prone. 

“An overuse injury happens when a bone, muscle or tendon has been put through repetitive stress without being given a sufficient amount of time to heal or repair, leading to micro-traumatic damage,” said Trimarchi. “Think sore pitching arms or pain in a swimmer’s shoulder that doesn’t go away, possibly keeping the athlete from competing.” 

The same repetitive motions year-round can, in other words, lead to such overuse injuries as strains, sprains, stress fractures, and even tears in muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Playing multiple sports, in contrast, allows young athletes to challenge their bodies in different ways, developing new sets of physical traits and skills and that offer more universal performance benefits. 

To help young athletes reduce the risk of developing overuse injuries and overall burnout, ACPT offers the following advice to parents and coaches: 

★ Encourage Diversity

Especially at an early age, encourage kids to try out and play different sports throughout the year. Some of the most successful athletes (up to 97 percent of the pros) believe being a multisport athlete was beneficial to their long-term success. 

★ Seek Rest

Young athletes should take at least one to two days off from practice and/or structured sports participation each week. Some experts suggest limiting weekly practice to the age (in hours) of the athlete. Long-term, athletes should take 2 to 3 months off a particular sport each year to help refresh the body and the mind. 

★ Specialize Later

Wait until at least high school age – better yet, around the ages of 16 or 17 – before considering specializing in any individual sport. At this point, the body is more prepared for such rigors. 

★ Watch for Signs

If a young athlete complains of nonspecific problems with muscles and/or joints, physical fatigue, or grows concerned about poor performance, visit a health professional such as a physical therapist, who can fully evaluate the issue and offer treatment (if needed) for any potential injuries or deficiencies.