“One of the most common sports injuries I see every week is pain in an extremity from chronic repetitive stress, whether it is at the elbow, the wrist, the ankle, the knee or the foot,” says Dr. Schlechter. “Those are definitely the most common sports-related injuries in children that are less traumatic and nonoperative, most of the time. They can be prevented by activity modification, rest, ice, anti-inflammatories and a good stretching program,” he recommends.
Common sports sense
A general rule of thumb to reduce injury, says Dr. Schlechter, is for children to not play one sport year-round. They should engage in multiple sports. “For instance, if your child is a baseball player, they should probably cross-train and participate in maybe football, track, and basketball instead of baseball year-round, with a three-month period of rest. That’s a good preventative strategy,” he suggests. Another piece of advice: Don’t play through pain.
Take time to heal…fully
“In general, most musculoskeletal injuries, for them to be fully healed, can take 12 to 16 weeks. Most children start feeling better after resting two to four weeks. They tend to go back to sports too soon. Definitely take the full time to recover,” he says.
“Every football season and the start of soccer season, I’ll see a flurry of patients with foot and ankle pain and those are usually growth plate-related conditions, stress injuries to the bone of the feet,” he says. Dr. Schlechter suggests saving the cleats for game situations only, not every day conditioning.
- The number of minutes you should apply ice to an injury: 15 to 20 minutes
- The number of childhood sports injuries in the U.S. each year: 3.5 million
- The amount of time children should rest between sports activities: 3 months
This article was featured in the Orange County Register on November 19, 2013 and was written by Shaleek Wilson.
Featured pediatric expert
New York College of Osteopathic Medicine
Dr. Schlechter completed his orthopedic surgery residency at Riverside County Regional Medical Center, where he is the director of orthopedic education and research. He completed a pediatric orthopedic and scoliosis fellowship at Rady’s Children’s Hospital San Diego as well as a post-fellowship preceptorship in sports medicine and arthroscopy at the Orthopedic Specialty Institute in Orange, CA.
Dr. Schlechter’s philosophy of care: “I try to treat the child and not the parent, and make sure the athletes understand their conditions and the rationale of why they might need to have some rest and what the potential unwanted outcomes could be if they don’t get rest.”