Spring is finally here and sunny skies are ahead of us for the next few months. The warmer weather also means that spring sports have already started back up. Baseball, track and field, lacrosse, tennis, golf and a number of other sports will soon pick up once again if they haven’t already done so. For young athletes, this can be an exciting time for them to get physically active outdoors in their favorite sport after the long winter.
At the same time, the return to sports also comes with an increased risk of injury for these young athletes. Some athletes enter the spring season after competing in various other sports throughout the rest of the year, and it takes some time for their bodies to adapt to whichever spring sport they’re participating in. Others may not be involved in any sports over the past few months and need extra time to get back into proper shape for the season.
Even athletes who spend most of the year committed to a single sport—like baseball—carry their own injury risk into the spring. Repetitive training in the same sport fails to work other parts of the body, meaning some reflexes and responses are overdeveloped, while others are underdeveloped. These athletes therefore require additional training too.
Overuse injuries, which occur when certain motions are repeated over and over, are especially common this time of year. Players may rush into training without taking enough time to rest and recover. Some of the more common injuries seen in spring sports are labral tears and ulnar collateral ligament tears in baseball, ankle sprains in lacrosse, knee injuries in track and field, and tennis elbow and shoulder injuries in tennis.
The best way to prevent these injuries is by taking steps to make sure young athletes are prepared for the season and encouraging them to not overdo it with training. Here are some tips to help parents and coaches prepare young athletes for spring sports:
- Perform a functional preparation evaluation, which includes questions like: can you squat all the way down while keeping your feet flat/bend forward and touch your toes/stand on one leg without losing balance; if young athletes have difficulty with any of these movements, certain areas may need to be worked on
- With the help of a physical therapist, create a conditioning/prevention program to ensure all athletes are in shape for the season
- Start using a warm-up protocol like PEP (Prevent Injury, Enhance Performance), which addresses potential deficits in strength and coordination
- Use strength training to rebuild muscles that haven’t been used in a while
- Encourage young athletes to start out slowly and to gradually increase the intensity of their workouts as the season progresses
- Make sure athletes stretch thoroughly before and after playing
- Check all equipment and replace anything that’s worn-out or old
The spring season is a great time for young athletes to make their way back to the baseball diamond or lacrosse field, and it shouldn’t be disturbed by an unnecessary injuries. Follow these tips and if you need more assistance, or for any other aches or pains, Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates in Shelby and Kings Mountain, NC are here to help. Call us at 704-471-0001 for more information or to schedule an appointment.