It is fall and soccer season is underway. Across the US, in towns large and small, you can see families criss crossing their way around town to the soccer fields.
Unfortunately, soccer season can also bring sports injuries. These injuries can vary – bruises from being kicked or stepped on (all accidentally, of course) to ankle sprains and stress fractures.
Children are susceptible to overuse injuries. Because their bodies are still growing and can be growing rapidly, the tendons, muscles, bones, and joints can be injured. Combine the rapid growth with long sport seasons and you can have the perfect storm for injury.
In the 10 – 14 age group, you can also see growth plate injuries. Growth plates are found in children’s bodies. They are spaces at the ends of long bones. These areas allow for the growth of bones and will close up when the child reaches the age of 18. Overuse and stress of the areas where growth plates are found can cause injury. While most injuries can be overcome with rest, if ignored, the injuries can be serious enough to warrant surgery and can affect the growth of the bones.
There is a growth plate in a child’s heel. The heel bone or calcaneus is still forming at the growth plate and can be a weak area. Too much stress will cause heel pain for the child. The stress can come from a fall or it can come from overuse. Most heel pain can be alleviated with rest. But, if your child’s pain is persistent then you need to go to the doctor. The doctor can check the area and, if need be, immobilize the heel to restore the integrity of the growth plate and ensure the proper maturation of the bone. In addition, the doctor may have the child do exercises to increase strength and range of motion.
Another overuse injury in children is the stress fracture. A stress fracture occurs when the child increases physical activity dramatically without building up strength. Because of the rapid growth in children, their bones need to build up steadily and if there is a sudden change in activity, the bone strength may not be up to the task. As with adults, a slow steady increase in activity will help prevent a stress fracture.
The best way to avoid overuse injuries for children is moderation. If your child is injured, you need to assess the injury. Keep in mind the acronym RICE – rest, ice, compression, and elevation. (By the way, elevation means the affected area should be higher than the heart.) If your child does not seem to be recovering within a day or so take him or her to see the doctor. If the area is very swollen and the child is in great pain, go to the doctor right away. Those growth plates are important to your child’s development and you don’t want to see anything affect them.
(The Foot Blogger Chick is on vacation this week. We don’t really understand what she has done to need a vacation but she has taken one. She will be back next week because we aren’t going to do her job for her… )
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave them in the comment section below. I am not a doctor but I check with one before answering questions.
Trivia Question of the week– Pele is widely regarded as the world’s greatest soccer player. What country did he come from and (for extra credit) what was his real first name?
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